216: Content – Are Recipes Copyrightable, Layers in Food Photography, and New Resources for Food Bloggers

An image of table with food on it and a girl taking a picture of it and the title of the 216 episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Content.'

Welcome to episode 216 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, we talk about whether or not recipes are copyrightable, how to incorporate layers into your food photography, and some of the new resources we have for food bloggers on Food Blogger Pro.

Last week on the podcast, we focused on how to optimize the time you spend on Pinterest, how to establish an Instagram Story series, how to calculate engagement, and more. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Content 

We’d go so far to say that content is the bread and butter of food blogs. If you look at all the techy stuff, the SEO, the plugins, the monetization…content is at the core of it all. And that’s our focus for today!

First, you’ll hear from Danielle, our incredible Legal Expert here at Food Blogger Pro, and she talks all about recipe copyrighting and how to properly give credit to other content creators. We get asked questions about this all the time in the Food Blogger Pro forums, and Danielle makes it easy to understand and implement.

Next up: Lindsay! And because we focus on food and we eat with our eyes, photography is a huge, important part of the content creation equation. She talks about styling, layering, and her approach to photography in this episode.

And last: Alexa. You’ll hear a quick update about some of the new content we’ve recently published to Food Blogger Pro for our members. We talk about a recent Q&A, new tools we’re using, new courses we’re planning, and more.

It’s a great episode, and our goal is that it helps you streamline your content creation process and helps eliminate some questions you might have around creating content for your food blog. Enjoy!

A quote from Lindsay Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'Food itself can be the art.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What parts of your blog posts are copyrightable
  • What you can do if you find a copy of one of your recipes online
  • What a DMCA takedown notice is
  • The right way to give credit to another recipe when you were “inspired by” it
  • Important parts of a food photograph
  • How layers work in food photography
  • How to find your photography style
  • Some of the new content we’ve published on Food Blogger Pro

Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Spotify:

Resources:

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

If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.

Transcript:

Alexa Peduzzi: Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I’m Alexa, yes, like the Amazon Alexa. And we are just so, so glad that you’re here.

Alexa Peduzzi: By now, you’re probably aware that we’re experimenting with a new format of the podcast where we’re doing a few smaller interviews focused on a specific topic versus one just long interview per episode. This week’s focus is content. I’d go as far to say as content is, excuse the food pun, the bread and butter of food blogs. If you look at all of the techie stuff, all of the SEO, the plug-ins, the monetization, content is at the core of it all.

Alexa Peduzzi: Before we get into the interview about content, I quickly wanted to chat about a fun resource that can help you plan that content for your blog that you will share with your readers, and that is Foodimentary. It’s a resource for food holidays, and even though some of the food holidays are a little silly and I’m actually not quite sure who dubbed them national holidays, they’re still fun to look through and share with your readers.

Alexa Peduzzi: For instance, the day that this podcast episode goes live, August 20th, it’s actually a special day because there are two food holidays celebrated: National Bacon Lovers’ Day and National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day. Some of the holidays are oddly specific. For example, November 7th is National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day. But they’re also just really fun and a great way to get your readers to engage and chat. You can check out Foodimentary by going to foodimentary.com.

Alexa Peduzzi: With all of that said, this episode about content is such a good one. First, you’ll hear from Danielle, our incredible legal expert here at Food Blogger Pro. She talks all about recipe copyrighting and how to properly give credit to other content creators when you look to their content for inspiration. We get asked questions about this all the time in the Food Blogger Pro forums, and Danielle just makes it so easy to understand and implement.

Alexa Peduzzi: Next up, Lindsay. And because we focus on food and we eat with our eyes, photography is a huge important part of the content creation equation. She talks about styling, layering, and her approach to photography in this episode.

Alexa Peduzzi: And, last, me. You’ll hear a quick update about some of the new content we’ve recently published at Food Blogger Pro for our members. You’ll hear about a recent Q&A, new tools that we’re using, new courses that we’re planning, and more. It’s a great episode, and our goal is that it helps you streamline your content creation process and helps you eliminate some questions you might have around creating content for your food blog.

Alexa Peduzzi: Without any further ado, let’s hear from Danielle.

Bjork Ostrom: Danielle, welcome to the podcast.

Danielle Liss: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So we have done many different events together. You are a Food Blogger Pro expert representing all of the different angles from the legal side of things and connected back to your business, Businessese. It’s such a great resource because it’s so important for people to understand the legal side of their business and the legal side of their blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Today, we’re talking all about content. And specifically, with you, we’re going to be talking about recipe content and how you can be strategic about some of the legal considerations with that. One of the questions that we always get is this question around, “What is an original recipe?” It’s hard because recipes… It’s not like you’re going to manifest this thing that is the brand-new way to create a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something. Ingredients are ingredients.

Bjork Ostrom: So, to kick things off, what does it look like to write an original recipe? How do you go about doing that, and what is considered original when it comes to recipes?

Danielle Liss: I think that it’s tricky when we talk about recipes because I think that one of the things we have to do is look at what does a copyright mean? There, it’s a collection of rights that’s related to an original work of authorship. That means, usually, the expression of an idea in a tangible medium, so videos, photos, prose, things like that.

Danielle Liss: The tricky thing about recipes is that the court has decided that recipes aren’t creative, which blows my mind because I am the world’s worst cook, and I could never in a million years come up with these things. But what they have said is the listing of the ingredients and the listing of steps, that does not require enough creative expression to be considered copyrightable.

Danielle Liss: What is going to be copyrightable is what goes along with that list or those steps. Are you writing a story? The story that goes along with it is something that’s done. I don’t know if this is still a thing, but I think that… Do you remember Thug Kitchen?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. For sure. I’m not super familiar with it, but it’s such a memorable name that I’m familiar with it.

Danielle Liss: Everyone should be warned. If you go looking for it, very, very, very salty language. I just made a food pun on Food Blogger Pro. Sorry.

Bjork Ostrom: As much as possible, we could do that. That would be great. Thank you.

Danielle Liss: It wasn’t even intentional.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: Okay. They had a very memorable way of expressing their recipes. It was ridiculous and absurd. That is going to be original enough to be copyrightable. I was trying to come up with an example of how could somebody do this, and this is what my brain came up with.

Danielle Liss: Let’s say you decided to have a Shakespearian recipe website, and you are doing everything in iambic pentameter and with couplets. If you are doing something along those lines to talk about your teaspoon of sugar, that would fall into the threshold of this original creation of a creative idea.

Danielle Liss: So it is really going to depend on what that format looks like for how you are expressing it. But if you just have a list that says, “You’re going to need the following ingredients, and these are the steps that you will follow,” that isn’t copyrightable. But all of your images, if you do a video demo… It’s the images and the video themselves, not necessarily the recipe content, that are protected.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So it’s kind of the things that surround the recipe that would be copyrightable. Images, obviously, that’s really easy to understand. Okay, nobody can just come and grab your image and use it somewhere else. That’s something that you own. The surrounding content, maybe, like you said, your storytelling or the creative writing around it, and then obviously video as well.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I’ve heard thrown out is you can’t copyright a list of ingredients, but if you have instructions that are creative-ish or that go beyond standard “Do this, then do that,” that would be something that you could copyright. Is there any way to understand, “Hey, this is when it tips over into something that is owned by me and somebody else can’t use it”? Or, just in general, is it like, “Hey, a recipe, ingredients, and instructions, you just can’t copyright that”?

Danielle Liss: I think that it’s a hard… It’s a gray area. I think that you can’t necessarily say… because you can add some additional text around… And this is where my lack of cooking skills comes in: “Beat in eggs,” or, “Add dry ingredients.” You can put some things in there, but if you’re saying, “Gently pour from the mixing bowl your dry ingredients,” there you’re still pretty much just staying I’m adding the dry ingredients.

Danielle Liss: I think the key is going to be how much of it is you and how much of it is instruction, and is it done in a style that would be really very basic and… I don’t think this is a word, but I’m going to throw it out there: explanational.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Love it. Totally tracking.

Danielle Liss: Right. So is it something that makes it more creative? If yes, then it likely is copyrightable. But if it’s just something where you’re like… Just kind of add a couple of adverbs. What is it that they say when you’re writing? Cut the adverbs? So if you’re just doing that, then that’s where it’s going to get tricky in terms of what you can and can’t consider copyrightable.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. An example is… I’m looking at this couscous summer salad that Lindsay has, and she has a list of all the ingredients. It’s just like you’d expect them to be, one cup couscous uncooked, dried cherries, and then below, instructions. It’s salad, super simple. Combine couscous, cherries… It lists all the ingredients, and then it says, “Stand till the couscous is cooked, about five minutes. Let it cool. Toss everything together and season to taste.”

Bjork Ostrom: It’s like, “Okay.” That’s not the storytelling… There’s not a lot of creative content around it. It’s generally walking through the process of how you take the ingredients and put them together. In that case, it’s like, “Okay. This is something that’s probably not copyrightable.” But if she went on and on about how her grandma used to make this and how it’s such an awesome recipe, then that would maybe tip into that gray zone a little bit on the side of copyrightable, if there’s more content that’s surrounding it, more storytelling, more creative work around it, versus just instructional content.

Danielle Liss: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things that I know would come up, and this happens, is somebody might see a recipe that looks almost exactly like theirs. Maybe it’s kind of just lifted, and even the instructions are lifted. Is there anything you can do in a case like that, if somebody’s just coming and copying everything, including your instructions, and then using it on their site?

Danielle Liss: This is where things get really tricky in terms of recipes and copyright ability. Is what they have copied just that list of ingredients and that series of basic steps with no additional content or storytelling? If it is, then there’s likely going to be some issue. You may not be able to go to them and say that. You can always approach them and say, “This isn’t okay. This is my recipe. You need to credit it,” and see what you can do.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and that would be relational versus legal.

Danielle Liss: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a relational step of, “Hey, I’m noticing this is literally, word for word, what I published. I just want to have a conversation around that. It doesn’t feel right.” But maybe you can’t… It wouldn’t be something you could hold them to legally.

Danielle Liss: Exactly. The other piece of it is, what else did they possibly copy? If you had that introductory story or they are literally just scraping your content and they’ve got your images, your videos, things along those lines, then you can definitely send a cease and desist and say, “Hey, you need to take this down.” I usually recommend doing that yourself. Write to them and say, “Hey, this is my recipe. This is where it lives,” like if they have a contact form, whatever that way for you to reach them is.

Danielle Liss: What we unfortunately see most often is people who are copying and scraping that type of content, they’re not really forthcoming in where or who they are. So your next step is going to be a DMCA takedown. For that, I usually tell people Google “DMCA takedown.” That stands for Digital Millennial Copyright Act. What you can do there, it’s a safe harbor law where the host of that content… You can send this letter to the host and request that they take it down because it is infringing.

Danielle Liss: So that’s going to be your next best step. You can go to the… Is it the WhoIs registry? And determine who is the host. Send it to them, and then you can work on getting it taken down without necessarily involving the site author.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And there’s multiple different instances that I can think of where we’ve run into that issue where it’ll literally be somebody who’s scraping the site, and so it’s all the images. It’s all the content. It’s the recipe itself. In those cases, it’s like, “Hey. Wait a minute. This is a terrible thing to do,” essentially. So we reach out and we do the process of requesting through their hosting company that they take that down. Hosting companies are legally required to do that if you can prove that you have ownership of that content by showing where it was originally published.

Bjork Ostrom: So what does that look like, then, for recipe creators to publish a recipe that maybe they’ve taken inspiration from another recipe, much like you would a song if you’re a musician or a painting if you’re a painter, but to also know that, “Hey, this is from another recipe that somebody created. I was inspired by that. I’m creating my own version of it”? How do you go about doing that as a recipe creator?

Danielle Liss: I think it depends on how much you are overhauling it and how much you are changing within that recipe. I personally think that a lot of things are inspired by other things, and this is really in all aspects of creativity, whether it’s you’re inspired by another recipe, you were inspired by someone’s images in terms of, “Oh, you know what? I want to use…” My lack of tech is going to show here. Lightroom presets? I think that’s a phrase.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Well done.

Danielle Liss: See? Look at me. Thank you. So there are always going to be these levels of inspiration. I don’t think that there are many ways to make chicken soup. I think that if you go in and it just turns out that you have made the exact same chicken soup as somebody and you’re like, “I’ve never seen your stuff. This just happened,” then you don’t necessarily have to worry about the “inspired by” aspect of it.

Danielle Liss: But if you are definitely feeling like, “This is the recipe that I am modifying for my own use,” I recommend giving credit through some type of attribution, whether it’s a link in the original recipe, or tell a story about it. I think that that is something that you can do really well because if you think about it… My mom used to make this thing she called cowboy stew when I was growing up, and we all hated it because we had to eat it all the time.

Danielle Liss: If I wanted to somehow modify that, I’m inspired by cowboy stew. Then I can tell a story, like, “This is something that my mom used to make all the time when I’m little. I’m just trying to make it tolerable because it was disgusting,” whatever story you can weave into that, and then just link back to it if it’s something that you found on another website.

Danielle Liss: If you’re making changes to the ingredients or process but it’s still recognizable, then that might be when you list it as, “I was inspired by this.” I think a great example is let’s say you love someone’s bisque recipe, but… And you know what? I’m gluten-free, so I want to figure out if I can use all of the same stuff except sub in my favorite gluten-free mix. And then you can say it was inspired by that original recipe. You’re just helping people to see that it’s possible to make it gluten-free.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Got it. I feel like a good example would be… And we can link to this in the show notes if people want to check it out. There is a vegan restaurant here in the Twin Cities called J. Selby’s, and they have these incredible buffalo cauliflower bites, or comparable to wings. So it’d be like buffalo cauliflower wings.

Bjork Ostrom: We love them and we get them all the time. Lindsay created a taco recipe using that as inspiration, and within that post, it’s one of the first things that she talks about is this restaurant where we found those and really liked those, so calling back to those as the inspiration.

Bjork Ostrom: So for content creators, for people who are looking to use something as inspiration, just calling that out, saying, “Hey, this is the place where I had this idea. This is where I first noticed it. I want to give credit to this person,” linking back to that person. That’s going to be something that not only is nice to do to acknowledge the other creator, but also, as you are creating content, as you’re writing a post, one of the strategies that you can use from an SEO perspective and to make your content sticky is to link back to other places not on your site.

Bjork Ostrom: So there’s also some strategy to that, to have outgoing external links. It’s not like it’s going to be this damaging thing that you should never link to other content. It’s something that you can do that’s actually a strategy, is to link to other relevant pieces of content. That would be a great way to do that, would be to acknowledge somebody or something that you were inspired by to get to that recipe.

Bjork Ostrom: Really appreciate you talking a little bit about that. It’s something that we have talked about before, often comes up, and so many questions around that. Danielle, you also have a site called Businessese, and would love for you to talk a little bit about that. It maybe doesn’t relate directly to recipe copyright, but it kind of ties in to that category of legal as it relates to blogging. So what is Businessese? How can people find out more about it?

Danielle Liss: Sure. You can visit Businessese.com, and that’s “business” with E-S-E at the end, because most people think it’s business-ess. What we try to do there, we know and we get it that the legal side of the business can be pretty daunting for people, so we have created resources to make that a little bit easier. We have a ton of DIY templates. For example, if somebody came to you and they said, “Hey, I love this recipe that you’ve got copyrighted because you have all these additional steps. Can I license it?” we do have forms for that where you can come and make that a little bit easier for you in the process.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. We’ll link to that in the show notes as well. Danielle, thanks so much for coming on.

Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay, welcome back to the podcast.

Lindsay Ostrom: Well, thank you.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s been fun to have you as a recurring guest in this series that we’re doing. Obviously, today, we are chatting about content. Content is a really important thing in what we do. We are content marketers, content creators. It is really the core of Pinch of Yum, in a lot of ways, is content.

Bjork Ostrom: Of that content, one of the really important elements is photography. And in photography, one of the really important things is styling. I know that a lot of people understand certain components of photography. Maybe they understand the technical components. But then there’s also all of these other components that go into it, styling being a really important one.

Bjork Ostrom: For somebody who is new to food photography who’s just getting into it, what would your advice be if they’re looking to understand how to style a food photograph? It’s a big question, but would you have any thoughts on that?

Lindsay Ostrom: It’s a very big question because it just depends on so many things. Some things that I would encourage someone to think about if they’re in the kitchen, they’ve got a recipe, and now it’s time to take the shot… Okay. So, of course, I would encourage you to think about the props you’re using, the background, the dishes, and the things I would especially focus on would be the color but also the finish of those, so not having something that’s super shiny and reflective.

Lindsay Ostrom: Or maybe you do want to work with something really reflective, but you have a specific vision for that. So thinking about those elements of styling before you even get to the food. But for the food itself, I love food styling. I am probably not the world’s greatest food stylist. It’s just one part of many things that I and we all do. But I love food styling because I feel like food itself can be the art.

Lindsay Ostrom: I think I used to have the idea that you have to bring in so many props in order to have a beautiful food photo, and now I kind of feel the opposite. I feel like just take all the junk out. Just give me one dish of really nicely styled food, and it’s going to be a much better shot. Obviously, a lot of that has to do with your own personal style, what matches your brand and your aesthetic and all of that.

Lindsay Ostrom: But if it were me and I had a finished recipe and I’m ready to go shoot… Can you give me an example food that I can work with?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Salad.

Lindsay Ostrom: Okay. Salad is an easy one. If I had a salad that I’m going to go shoot, I’m going to select my background. I’m going to select probably my single dish. I’d probably go for a single-serving-plus, so a big, big bowl, probably bigger than what somebody would normally eat but small enough to where a person could put their hands around it. It’s not going to be so huge.

Lindsay Ostrom: Then I would start by… One of the words that I think about when it comes to food styling specifically with the food is layering. I think about layering as it relates to the ingredients. A salad is a multi-component recipe. You probably have the lettuce, and you might have some croutons, and you might have some roasted vegetables, and you might have some protein, and you might have a dressing and some herbs and toppings.

Lindsay Ostrom: All of those can create a layer. So I think about it like in a vertical layer. Let’s imagine we’re shooting it from overhead. We want to layer things so that the photo doesn’t feel flat is what I’m trying to get at. So I’m starting with the background. I put the bowl on. I put the greens in. And then, when I put the next ingredient in, I’m adding a layer, and also, what I would recommend in the case of a salad or a bowl of some recipe like this is keeping each element segmented.

Lindsay Ostrom: So I’m often thinking about how do I make this look as visually striking as possible? One of the ways that I think you can make a recipe and your food photos look visually striking is by not going crazy with the mixing, whether it’s a pasta or a salad or some kind of a bowl, just fruit arranged somewhere on the side. I think, visually, it’s usually more striking to look at little sections of something laid next to each other as opposed to something tossed all together.

Lindsay Ostrom: There’s an example photo on the Food Blogger Pro Instagram stories that I did a couple weeks ago that shows two photos of the same exact salad. In one of them, I have all the ingredients kind of segmented and layered on top of each other so you can see here’s all the peaches. Here’s all the couscous. Here’s all the pistachios. Here’s all the arugula. All the ingredients you can see versus, “Here’s the salad all tossed up.”

Lindsay Ostrom: When you eat the salad, you’re going to eat it all tossed up. But for the sake of a nice and really striking picture, I would highly recommend trying to segment those ingredients as much as possible. And, like I said, that’s not just for salads. That could be for other foods as well. Let’s say you have a stack of pancakes. Rather than tossing a bunch of berries and putting them on the top, put some blueberries over here. Then put some strawberries over here. Keep them in little sections because those little clusters of color and shape create, I think, a more striking image. They pull your eye in a little bit more.

Lindsay Ostrom: I learned this kind of in a backwards way because I was reviewing what our most popular posts on Instagram were. This was a few years ago. I was looking at the photos ranked by popularity, and it was like all of our top photos had some form of segmenting in them. I was like, “Oh. That’s interesting.” Those type of photos really are visually eye-catching. So that’s something I’m often thinking about when it comes to styling, is this idea of layering ingredients and/or segmenting as opposed to mixing everything together and having it get muddy in that way.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. It’s not an easy thing to describe on a podcast.

Lindsay Ostrom: No. I’m using my hands a lot, but I feel like I’m not… Obviously, that’s not doing anything.

Bjork Ostrom: So people can imagine that. If you are a Food Blogger Pro member, there’s, of course, styling for food photography. The nice thing about this is, Lindsay, you’re actually able to do a screen share so people are looking at your computer, and then you also have one of those gooky little pens that you’re able to draw on the computer screen so people can see, as you are walking through that, some of these different elements that you are talking about.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you had said was a nicely styled photo… This was at the beginning. You said in order for something to be styled nicely… Or you said something like that. For me, meaning something that I view as a good style… And you were talking about styling as it relates to you. How do people formulate their own opinion on what their style is? Would you have any recommendations for people who are starting out and they don’t really know yet?

Lindsay Ostrom: Yes. This is hard. This takes a long time, or maybe not for you. Maybe you’re just a pro and you know what your style is, but for me, it took me a long time. I would recommend looking around. Just look around at other people’s work who you admire and people whose photography or general style feels like it resonates with you on some level.

Lindsay Ostrom: One of the things I did with this is I did some real work on this where I created a Pinterest board, and I created a style board, style inspiration board. And then I created a board of my own photography, my favorite photos that I had taken. And then I literally pulled up two browser windows side by side, the two browser windows, one with other people’s inspirational style and then one with my own style, and tried to look for how were their photos different than mine? What were the elements that I was liking in their photos?

Lindsay Ostrom: This would be a collection of 25 or 30 different photographers. It’s not like I’m just taking one photographer and trying to emulate their style, necessarily. But I think just even being able to articulate what you’re going for is really, really helpful and something that makes the photography and styling process a lot easier.

Lindsay Ostrom: One huge takeaway for me through this process was realizing that just because I liked something didn’t mean that it was necessarily the right style for me personally to have. I could appreciate someone’s style and, at the same time, say, “I think that’s so beautiful. I know that my style is different from that, but I still think that’s really beautiful, and it’s one of my favorite styles to look at,” if that makes sense.

Lindsay Ostrom: I think differentiating that was just so important for me because it freed me up from… I think I mentioned before, but from feeling like a great food photo means 100 props in it. Well, that’s not my style. I love food photos like that that have a lot of different things going on, and I can appreciate that. And I can also say that’s not my style. My style is one dish, one bowl, maybe two bowls, very much food focused.

Lindsay Ostrom: So just think about that as you’re collecting sources of inspiration: just because it inspires you doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular style is right for you and for your brand.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Great, Linds. Thanks for coming on and talking a little bit about content and how you approach content on Pinch of Yum.

Bjork Ostrom: Next up, we’re going to be talking to Alexa, the general manager of Food Blogger Pro. She’s going to be talking about content that’s been coming out at Food Blogger Pro, some of the new content that we have coming down the line, and some of the things that we’re really excited about.

Bjork Ostrom: Alexa, great to be chatting with you.

Alexa Peduzzi: You as well, Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s going to be fun to talk about some of the things that are new on Food Blogger Pro. Obviously, one of the things that’s so excited about this new period that we’re in is that people can sign up at any point. So it’s more relevant for us to talk about the things that are happening because there’s not this carrot on a stick where we’re like, “Hey, here are the cool things that are happening on Food Blogger Pro, but you can’t sign up.”

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s great to have these little segments not only for active members because sometimes people miss the stuff that’s happening behind the scenes, but also for people who maybe are interested in signing up and becoming a member.

Bjork Ostrom: What are some of the things that are coming up here, some of the things that you are excited about because you are really close to all the inner workings of Food Blogger Pro? Fill us in. What are some of the new things that are happening?

Alexa Peduzzi: Definitely. Well, I think one of the most awesome things about Food Blogger Pro is that a membership looks different two weeks from now than it does right now because we’re always adding new content, which is the focus of this episode. So this is just kind of a quick little recap of some of the new content that we’ve recently published on Food Blogger Pro as well as just some things that we have planned in the pipeline.

Alexa Peduzzi: We can start with live Q&As. I always say that they are my favorite times of the month because they’re just so much fun. We sometimes just have you or Lindsay or both of you answer members’ questions. Other times, we invite other people on, which is great. That’s actually what happened just last week. We had a awesome Q&A about brands and monetizing your blog. It was a lot of fun. We answered a ton of questions, and actually, Jenna, Pinch of Yum’s Communications Manager tagged along and helped answer those questions kind of from a Pinch of Yum perspective and how Pinch of Yum handles monetizing.

Alexa Peduzzi: So it was really cool, just a great conversation. These live Q&As happen every single month. And each Q&A we’ve ever done… I actually went back and checked, and our first one was all the way back in October of 2015.

Bjork Ostrom: Crazy.

Alexa Peduzzi: I know.

Bjork Ostrom: I can remember when we did it. Lindsay and I were on a trip, and we were in this… way up north in Minnesota. We were crossing our fingers. I think we used YouTube Live and really hoped that the internet was strong enough to actually work. But it went off, and it was like, “Gosh, that was really fun,” after we went through it. So I’m glad that it’s something that we’re still doing.

Alexa Peduzzi: Oh yeah. And we’ve done one every single month since then, which is crazy. They’re all available for replay for all of our members.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.

Alexa Peduzzi: They’re just the best. They’re so much fun.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, and the thing that I love about the monetization and specifically talking about brands and sponsored content is that, with Pinch of Yum, we’ve come through the process of doing that and developing some systems within it. And it’s the kind of thing that will help people really shortcut. It doesn’t shortcut the work, but it shortcuts the exploration of figuring out what works well when we’re able to say, “Hey, here’s exactly how we do it and the system that we have around that.”

Bjork Ostrom: If we would’ve had somebody that told us that three or four years ago, it would have been a huge advantage to us. The hard thing is people don’t talk about that stuff a lot. It’s not something that people are really open about. So we’re excited to be able to share that with members and specifically to answer the questions that people are most interested in, which is another one of the things that I love with those live Q&As, is people vote on the thing that they’re most interested in hearing us talk about. In this last one, Jenna and I were able to jump in and really hit some of those top questions, which was great.

Alexa Peduzzi: Awesome. Yeah. It was just so much fun, and I definitely encourage, if there are current Food Blogger Pro members listening, to go check that out if you happened to miss it.

Alexa Peduzzi: Another thing that we hit this month, like every month, we published a new Happening Now video. And it was kind of a beast. We talked about a lot of stuff, and it was just, of course, really interesting and helpful. Actually, in it, Bjork, you talked about a new tool that you’re using to track your productivity called Timeular. I’m curious if you have any updates on that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. For Happening Now, the context for that, it’s literally, “Hey, here are the things that are happening now that we’re learning.” It started out where it was just me coming on, and this was, again, three, four years ago. I would come on and say, “Hey, here are the things that are happening now and the things that we’re learning.”

Bjork Ostrom: What we ended up realizing is that as we started to have a team and people focusing on certain areas, I started to become out of touch with things that were really important for people to know. So we’ve expanded that to include different team members. So Emily might come on and talk about some of the things she’s learning with video, or you might talk about some of the things that you’re learning, Alexa, with marketing as it relates to Food Blogger Pro, or Jennifer might talk about sponsored content stuff. We have people that are featured as a part of the team, and I’ll be a part of that as well, and Lindsay occasionally as well.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I talked about in this last Happening Now video was this device that I’m using, and this is something that I’m always interested in learning more about, how I work and that informing decisions that I make about the things that I focus on or trying to become more intentional about focusing on things that are more important.

Bjork Ostrom: So I was talking to a friend, and he’s like, “Hey, I just got this new time-tracking device.” I was like, “Oh, time tracking. I’ve tried that before.” I’m not super consistent with going up and pressing record and then saying what I’m doing and using a piece of software. But this device that my friend talked about was Timeular, and Timeular is… It looks like a big dice. It’s not… How many sides are on a dice? I was going to say four-sided. Six?

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I don’t know how many sides this has, but what it allows me to do is it allows me to write different things that would be tasks or projects that I’d be focusing on, and then I can set it down when I’m focusing on that thing. Right now, it’s recording, and I’m 13 minutes into content. The other things that I have on it are ideating, so taking time out to brainstorm, meetings, Slack, which is a communication tool that we have, email. I do a ton of emailing, admin.

Bjork Ostrom: So it allows me to essentially track along the way as I’m working on things, and it’s a physical device, which is what I really like. It allows me when I shift to lift it up, move it, and focus on another area. What that’s also allowed me to do is say, “Okay. I’m going to try and be intentional to not task-switch as much.” So if I’m doing content, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not trying to fit some Slack in on the side. This is just what I’m doing.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s been a focused device in that way to say, “Okay. This is exactly what I’m focusing on. This is what I’m doing.” It’s called Timeular. It’s an early-stage device. I think they maybe did a Kickstarter or something like that. But it’s not super buggy. I think you’d expect that with something early on, but it hasn’t been too bad. So I would recommend it, especially if you’re interested in getting informed a little bit more about how you work. It’s called Timeular. We can link to that in the show notes.

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah. I think that’s so interesting. Task-switching is something that I have a ton of trouble with.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. I think everybody does.

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah. Well, and just having something physical there just kind of is that constant reminder that, “Hey, you should really continue working through this.” Don’t get a burnout in two seconds and switch to something else. Actually start focusing. So I love that idea.

Alexa Peduzzi: Some of the other things we talked about in this month’s Happening Now, tool raising for bookkeeping, how we’re updating Pinch of Yum posts, how Slickstream, which is a really slick tool that we’re using on Pinch of Yum, is working, and then a new feature on Nutrifox. So we just talked about a ton of different things and really encourage current members to check it out.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome. How about courses? When people think of Food Blogger Pro, they think of that as kind of the core of what we do is courses, which really is. There’s obviously a lot of things. When you get into it, you realize there’s a lot of things around that. But we have some great courses that have been released recently or things that are coming up. So could you fill people in on what’s happening there?

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah, definitely. Well, and we often say that people join Food Blogger Pro for the courses, but they stay for the community. But for some of the courses, we actually started our Instagram master class this month, just last week. In it, we’re helping attendees create their own Instagram Playbooks and strategies.

Alexa Peduzzi: It’s been a ton of fun just being able to connect with members in a different way outside of the forum, outside of Q&As, just different. We’re talking solely on Slack, which is the communication tool that I think, Bjork, you mentioned earlier that we use just as a team, but we’re also using it for this master class.

Alexa Peduzzi: So it’s a lot of fun. There are instructional videos, Instagram Playbook template, a live Q&A that’s specific for attendees, and all that fun stuff. So it’s been really fun. It wraps up this week, but it’s been great.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Cool. We actually have a couple other courses specifically around some different areas, Pinterest, talking about some media kits, and then Google Search Console as well. So what’s the deal with those?

Alexa Peduzzi: We’re launching an update to our existing Pinterest course. This is something we really like to do just to try to keep our courses updated. Technology changes so fast, especially social media. So we are updating this Pinterest course, and we’re super excited about it. Pinterest is frequently in the top three, top five traffic drivers for food bloggers, I’d say. So we’re excited to refresh this Pinterest course with just some new content and some new strategies.

Alexa Peduzzi: We’re also working on a new course all about creating an awesome media kit, which is actually a course request from one of our members, which is really exciting. Media kits are just so important when you’re working with brands, when you’re monetizing your blog, because they help you summarize what you can bring to the table in a sponsored content capacity. This course is just going to teach you how you can create it, what you should include, and all that fun stuff.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. And then Google Search Console, this one is one that I’m excited about.

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah. Well, good thing, because you are making it. We have a current course on the site about Google webmaster tools, and there’s a new interface, a new name. Actually, Bjork, do you want to talk about what that tool is and why it’s important for bloggers?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The great thing about Google Search Console is that it’s kind of your communication tool with Google. Google Analytics is the one that most people are familiar with. That’s the reporting software that Google gives you access to for free. 95%, 99% of content creators, bloggers have Google Analytics set up. If you don’t, you should definitely do it.

Bjork Ostrom: I think Google Search Console is like the lesser known brother, sister, cousin, whatever it is, to Google Analytics because the information that it gives you isn’t quite as easy to understand as Google Analytics. People really easily understand page views, visitors, things like that. But I would argue that the information that Google Search Console gives you is more valuable.

Bjork Ostrom: It really helps inform some of the most important things about your site as it relates to search traffic, specifically with Google. A really concrete example is that Google Search Console will send you emails. It’ll literally be like an email from Google saying, “Here’s a search issue,” whether it’s a warning or an error, something that’s happening on your site that you need to be aware of.

Bjork Ostrom: If you don’t have Google Search Console set up, that’d be a really important thing to set up. Once you do set it up, it’s really important to actually spend some time in that to get to know it a little bit better. Something happened with Google Search Console recently where they updated the way that it looks, and for a while, the new version, the new look didn’t have all the features and functionality that the previous version does.

Bjork Ostrom: But it’s started to get to the point where it’s actually really helpful, and there’s a lot of important things that bloggers should know about Google Search Console. So we’re going to go through the process of talking through each one of those areas and what important information you can learn about your own blog and then the decisions that you can make as it relates to learning those things when it comes to Google Search Console.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s going to be a great course and super helpful information that’s going to be a part of that.

Alexa Peduzzi: Definitely. Well, and I don’t use Google Search Console as much as I should probably as a blogger myself. But I did just get an email, actually, from July, and I feel like this is one of the first times that they’ve sent this out. But it was a whole recap of my search performance on Google. I thought it was so cool, and it’s very easy to read. You don’t need to dig a ton. But I found out it was just really cool that I’m starting to rank for the search term “coffee for beginners.”

Bjork Ostrom: Nice.

Alexa Peduzzi: That was just really cool to see. So you can really find out a lot with Google Search Console, and I think that course is just going to be such a big one.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s really cool. There you are, number two. That’s really exciting to see that.

Alexa Peduzzi: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: … knowing that… Kind of following your coffee journey, if we can call it that, knowing that’s something that you’ve kind of geeked out on, it’s really cool to see you ranking for that. It is well deserved because I know that you are becoming a coffee connoisseur.

Alexa Peduzzi: For sure.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool to see that. So yeah. That course is coming up, and we’re excited about that as well. That’ll be great. So stay tuned if you’re a member. Or the good news is, like we said before, Food Blogger Pro is actually open for enrollment. So if you wanted to check it out, you can kind of kick the tires a little bit. What would be the best way for people to do that, if they want to check out Food Blogger Pro?

Alexa Peduzzi: You can just head over to our homepage, foodbloggerpro.com, and check out what we do, what we offer. You can check out some of our previous podcast episodes to hear what the content is that we focus on. If you’re ready to sign up, there’s a big, old button right on our homepage, or you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/signup. You can learn more about our pricing and what each membership gets and all that fun stuff.

Alexa Peduzzi: If you have any questions, I am an open book and I love chatting with you guys. So you can just shoot me an email at [email protected], and I would love to chat.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Thanks so much for doing a little update here, Alexa. Also, thanks for making this podcast happen, because without you we wouldn’t be able to do this podcast each week. For those of you listening, if you could all just do a little golf clap for Alexa right now. I’m doing a little golf clap where I am. So thanks for making that happen, and so many other things as well.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s it for this episode. Anything you want to say before we sign off? I mean, any departing words or words of wisdom or funny jokes that you’d like to pass along before we wrap up the episode?

Alexa Peduzzi: Oh man. Don’t put me on the spot to be funny. I think all I would want to say is that I would love to connect with you and meet up with you. I’m actually attending a conference and speaking at a food blogging conference next month. If you’re there, I would love to see you. It’s a Tastemaker Conference. I just love connecting with you guys, whether it’s virtually, in person, or in any other capacity. So just reach out. Love to talk.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Stay tuned for next episode here on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the podcast so you are notified every time we publish a new one.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this week. Our hope for you is that you can take some learnings from these episodes, little pieces you can apply to what you’re doing, and slowly over time, you can get a little bit better every day. We call it 1% infinity. It’s all about finding ways to get a tiny bit better every day forever, and we hope that this podcast can be a part of that for you.

Bjork Ostrom: Alrighty. Make it a great week. Thanks for listening. Bye.

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