359: 5 Mistakes Food Creators Make with Email Marketing with Amy Katz

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Email icon on a phone the title of Amy Katz's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Email Marketing Mistakes.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 359 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day about mistakes food creators make with email marketing.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Anela Malik from Feed The Malik and Magic at the Margins about how she built a subscription-based membership community. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Email Marketing Mistakes

As content creators, we’ve all heard about the importance of having an email list. But… how do we get readers to sign up for our list? And once they’ve subscribed, how do we entice them to actually open our emails?

Amy is here on the podcast to discuss it all!

In today’s episode, she’s sharing five common mistakes that food creators make when it comes to email marketing. You’ll also hear what her current email marketing strategy looks like and how she consistently has a 45–50% open rate for her emails.

It’s an inspiring conversation that shows just how powerful an email list can be. We hope you enjoy it!

A quote from Amy Katz's appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'I think that email is not only a great way to connect with your audience on a personal level and kind of create those super fans, but it's also a great way to generate income.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Amy became a full-time food blogger
  • Why she started focusing on email marketing
  • How she entices readers to join her email list
  • Why it’s important to email your list on a regular basis
  • How to increase your email open rate
  • How to make money through email marketing
  • What Amy’s weekly emails to her list look like


About This Week’s Sponsor

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

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

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

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

You can learn more and sign up here.

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

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

Transcript (click to expand):

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

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

Bjork Ostrom: So you could filter using Clariti and then you could take all of that and add it to a project called add internal links. Another project that we’re doing is simply adding alt text to images that don’t have alt text. We have 772 different posts on Pinch of Yum that have an image that is missing alt text in some way. So we filtered using Clariti and we said, “Show me all of the posts that have at least one image with alt text missing.” And then we took all of those posts and using Clariti, it takes 30 seconds. We said, “Create a project where we are going to look at these pieces of content and find those images and add alt text to those.” There’s lots of different things that Clariti can do. We’re still early stages with it. And because of that, we’re offering what we’re calling 25 Forever Campaign.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re allowing the first 500 users who sign up for Clariti to get their plan, to get a subscription to Clariti, for $25 a month forever. We’re not going to raise that, even down the line when Clariti becomes more full-featured, and it’s already pretty powerful with the things that you can do. But even when it becomes more full feature and we increase the pricing, maybe we change it based on how many page views you have or how many posts your site has, whatever it might be. Anybody who signs up in this early stage will continue to get that $25 a month forever plan. So if you’re interested in doing that and getting that deal, you can go to clariti.com/food, clariti.com/food. And that will bring you to a page where you can sign up and we’ll follow up with you once you’ve signed up expressing your interest, and we’ll talk through how you can do it, how you can sign up and really what comes with Clariti subscription.

Bjork Ostrom: So thanks to Clariti and the Clariti team for sponsoring The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. It’s kind of a tight-knit family here with the TinyBit companies, but it is an official sponsorship. And we want to thank the Clariti team for sponsoring The Food Blogger Pro Podcast and for building an incredible tool that we’ve been able to use across the TinyBit brands. So if you want to join, there’s still time for you to sign up. It’s not like we’re going to run out of those 500 user accounts right away, but they also won’t be there forever. So you can check that out by going to clariti.com/food, and thanks to Clariti for sponsoring the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello, this is Bjork, as you know, because you press play on the episode, maybe not, maybe just continue to go through your podcast list, your queue, and this one just started playing. But as you probably know, this is The Food Blogger Pro Podcast, where we have conversations with creators in the food space to learn what they’re doing and to learn how that might be able to apply to our businesses, our blogs, the publishing that we’re doing, the following that we’re building in hopes of continually getting better every day. That’s why we exist. And that’s what we’re going to be doing today. We’re going to be talking with Amy Katz from Veggies Save the Day. That’s the name of her blog and her respective social channels around the web. And she’s going to be talking about email marketing, something that’s really important. And specifically going to be sharing five mistakes that food creators make when it comes to email marketing. She’s been blogging since 2015 and her favorite way to connect with her audience is through email.

Bjork Ostrom: And she has a really great open rate, 45% to 50%. So that means out of all of the emails, she’s sending 45% to 50% of the people who get those, open those, and she’s going to be sharing what she’s learned along the way and why she really focuses on email, why she likes that as a strategy. And some of the things that you can apply to your email list in order to inch up towards, I’m guessing most of us aren’t at that point, maybe some of us are. But in order to get to that point where a lot of people, maybe even a majority of people who are getting your emails are opening them. So before we jump into the interview, one quick little shout-out. We mentioned this occasionally, but we actually have a little podcast community of people who are Food Blogger Pro Podcast listeners.

Bjork Ostrom: We like to see if there’s questions that you might have for upcoming guests. And sometimes the guests will join the group after the podcast and answer any questions that people had after it. And you can get to that group by going to foodbloggerpro.com/facebook, that will redirect you to the page where you can apply to join. We have over 500 Food Blogger Pro Podcast listeners who have joined that little podcast community, and it’s free to join. And it’s a way to continue the conversation because really, we’re having conversations on this podcast with guests. But we don’t get to have a conversation with you. And we would love to do that. So again, you can go to food bugger pro.com/facebook, if you want to join that community, that little community that we have. And now let’s go ahead and jump into the interview, have a conversation here with Amy, all about email. Amy, welcome to the podcast.

Amy Katz: Thanks Bjork, I’m happy to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to be talking about email. It’s something that we want to make sure that we talk about frequently because it’s important obviously really important, and there’s a huge opportunity. And also, I feel like in this niche, in this world, a lot of times it kind of gets neglected. It becomes kind of a back burner thing. So we’re going to be talking about things that you’ve learned along the way with email and maybe some mistakes to avoid. But before we do that, I’m also interested to hear, rolling the tape back a little bit to when people first started. And for you, that was 2015 with your site Veggies Save the Day. Tell me a little bit about what your mindset was at that point. And did you know you wanted to get into this to be really strategic and grow business, or was it kind of a hobby? What were you thinking when you first started your site?

Amy Katz: It was definitely a hobby. I first started sharing food that I was creating on Instagram. And a lot of my friends over there encouraged me to start a blog to share the recipes. So it was definitely a hobby at first, but as I started looking at other people’s blogs, I realized, “Oh, wow, I can actually monetize this and turn it into something where I can actually make, turn it into a business.” So I kept at it as a hobby for a little while, and then I definitely planned on how I could turn it into a business. So I was able to leave my full-time job in March 2017.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. So it took about two years. What were the things that you did during that period of time that really helped you make that transition? Cause it’s a relatively short amount of time to go from starting to the point where you could leave your full-time job.

Amy Katz: Absolutely. Well, one of the things was definitely just having the faith that I could do it, that if I put in the hard work, I could make it happen. So it wasn’t so much that I knew exactly how I was going to do it, but I knew that I would need to save some money and have a backup plan. So I just figured well, I should give it a shot. And I saved up as much income from my full-time job as I could and saved up a lot of vacation time that I got paid out on at the end. And I figured worst-case scenario, I could always get a part-time job, but I was really willing to put in the hard work and see where it could take me. So I did a lot of sponsored work back then, and then eventually my page views were high enough that I could get on an ad network so that helped a lot.

Bjork Ostrom: What would you do anything different when you look back at that period? Cause I know a lot of people who are in the early stages, there’s all different people who listen to the podcast, right. There’s people who are just starting out, really seasoned veterans who’ve been doing it for 10, 15 years, industry people. But let’s say you’re speaking to the people who are thinking about making kind of a similar transition and trying to figure out when do I do that and should I save up? And if so, how much? What did you learn in that process? And would you do anything different looking back on it now?

Amy Katz: I think that I did everything I could back then, but if I were starting off now, there are so many more resources that are available to new bloggers. So I would’ve definitely invested in learning as much about SEO as I could. When I started, I really had no idea about keyword research. So there are just so many more opportunities now and the information is readily available. So I think that newer bloggers definitely have an advantage that way. And I can see why a lot of them end up being able to go full time, even sooner than I did.

Bjork Ostrom: The idea being making sure that you’re using as many tools as possible, it’s not like you would’ve saved more or transition sooner or later. But really said, Hey, “I’m going to be strategic about the learning side of this to make sure I really think of learning as like a multiplier to the time that you’re investing.” And we talk about the concept of 1% infinity, tiny bit better every day. But one of the things that you can do with that is you can apply that learning to then the time that you’re working. So if you are working hard, that’s going to be more impactful if you have ideas of how to rank better, if it’s search or improving your photography or whatever it might be. So I love that. I think that makes a lot of sense and an important thing to balance.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’re not just working all the time and you also can’t be just learning all the time. You have to find that kind of middle ground with those things. So one of the things that you’ve learned along the way is the importance of email. It’s one of the things we’re going to be talking about today. What point in your journey did you say, “You know what, this is actually a really important thing and I’m going to focus in on this”? Was it early on after a few years, relatively recently, when did that happen?

Amy Katz: It was probably after a few years. I wish I had thought about it sooner, but it just wasn’t something that bloggers were talking about. So I wasn’t really aware of the power of email marketing and I was just thinking about things like that. Most bloggers think about social media and Pinterest was really big back then. And I just wasn’t thinking about something that should be so obvious because everyone has an email address. Not everyone is active on Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an email address. So looking back on it, I should have thought about it sooner, but I didn’t feel like I had the resources available to actually know more about it. So I started off like most people do with just the RSS feed and not very many subscribers because most people just don’t want to get those kind of emails.

Amy Katz: And then I went into the weekly newsletter where I showcased a bunch of different recipes, but it wasn’t something that was personal. And it just felt like I was looking at examples of maybe what commercial businesses do, maybe brands that sell products, but from the perspective of someone who’s a food blogger. So it really took me a while to kind of think about it and explore different resources and kind of figure out what will work best for myself.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. When you talk about your journey with email, you talked about RSS email, you can say RSS stands for real simple syndication or something like that. Really simple syndication. But the idea being what was popular for a season was you could subscribe to a blog, there’d maybe be a tool that you’d use to subscribe to different blogs. And they would push that blog post to that tool and you could read it via RSS. And you could also have that connect to your email so you would publish a new blog post. And then using RSS, this technology RSS, it would send out an email which would just be that blog post.

Bjork Ostrom: So it sounds like for a while, that’s what you had similar to us for a while, that’s what we had. And then kind of evolved that to more of a newsletter subscription. But you said that was not super personal and maybe had good content within it, but maybe kind of generic, like you would see with a brand or a product. And then my guess is the next evolution, it kind of sounds like was more personal. Did you view it more as like you writing an email to your readers, similar to how you would write an email to a friend or what did that next transition look like and what was the impact that happened from that transition?

Amy Katz: That’s absolutely how I started thinking about it. So when I write an email, one of the things I see people do, which I kind of consider a mistake is that they’re not speaking in their own voice. So one of the things I started doing was actually using my language the way I talk and just trying to relate to the people that were on my list. And you can use tools to make it seem more personal, say like, “Hi, Bjork, how are you doing?”

Bjork Ostrom: Inserting a first name.

Amy Katz: Where you add the first name and all that. And I think most people obviously realize that’s just your email software that’s doing that, but it still makes a difference. It makes it feel like you’re talking to them instead of like, “Hey guys” or like, you’re talking to a whole group of people. I mean, you want it to sound like you’re talking to just that one person and it’s actually you and the way you talk. So maybe you use a lot of pop culture references or you use a lot of analogies to music or something like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Applicable, if I were to write an email.

Amy Katz: So it makes the person feel like you’re actually want to have a conversation just with them.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.

Amy Katz: So I think that makes a big difference.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. And I think it was my, I’m trying to remember back, this was a few years ago. My father-in-law, I think, was subscribed to the Food Blogger Pro email list for some reason just being supportive. And he is like, “It feels like you’re talking to me.” And because we would use some of those things, like the first with email, you can ask somebody, put their first name in and their email address, and then you have that information. So to your point, you can insert that in not only when you’re addressing somebody like, “Hey, first name. Hey Bjork.” But then within the email itself, you could say, “What do you think about that Bjork?” Like as an example. And it adds a personalization that is impactful. You mentioned kind of some of these mistakes, and I know you have actually five different mistakes that you wanted to highlight that you’ve either made or seen people make. One of them is not speaking in your own voice. Is there some additional mistakes that we could talk through that people could be aware of?

Amy Katz: Absolutely. If we want to start with the first mistake I see people make is not making it easy for people actually to get on your email list. And along with that, you also have to give them a reason why they’d want to be on your email list. So I think back in the day, we used to just say, “Oh, subscribe for the latest recipes or subscribe for updates.” But people are not interested in that because if you look at your inbox, I know mine, personally, I get hundreds of emails every single day. And I don’t want these emails that are just kind of generic and telling me what the latest post on your blog was. I’m probably not even going to open those. But if you give them a reason to sign up and make it easy for them to sign up, then I think that they’re going to want to open your emails.

Amy Katz: So for example, if you go and visit someone’s blog, you want to see like, “Oh, it’s obvious how I can sign up.” So maybe you put a subscription form on the home page and maybe you have one in the sidebar. Maybe you have a popup. Maybe you embed them within blog posts themselves. So it has to be so that the average person who’s not a blogger can easily figure out how they can get on your email list. And then the second part of that is it helps to offer them something of value so that they want to join your email list. So for example, it could be that you’re providing them a PDF, maybe a free ebook or a guide, or maybe you’re offering them a free mini course that could be like a email series. So there’s so many different things that you can offer, but you really need to offer something of value in exchange for their email address.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. And one of the things I think a lot about is this idea of the more specific you can get to the need, the higher likelihood that somebody’s going to sign up for it. In the travel world, I think of my wife, Lindsay, and I just did a trip to Anna Maria Island, which is this beautiful island in Florida. It was just wonderful. And one of the things that we did was looking at things to do in Anna Maria. And on some of these posts, it was like they had an email opt in and it was like Florida packing list. And so that was really good, but I didn’t sign up for it cause I was already there. But even better would’ve been on this post about like 10 things to do in Anna Maria. If it was like seven best meals that you can have in Anna Maria, sign up to get this information.

Bjork Ostrom: In the recipe world to your point, you can start with saying like, “Hey, sign up for all my recipes.” Maybe it’s like a super fan and they’re like, “I want to get every recipe and I love it.” Or if somebody is on a post and it’s a cookies post, it could be 10 foolproof tips for getting the best soft cookies. And it’s like, “Oh, that’s actually really aligned then to what somebody’s doing.” So is that kind of what you’re getting at? Like, “Hey, don’t make it generic. Don’t make it this like catchall, give something to people that they actually want, that they would really value.” And that’s where you’re going to see the most traction. Is that generally speaking kind of what you’re getting at?

Amy Katz: And I think that you can do it like specific to different posts. Say you are someone who has like a lot of baking recipes so you want to provide some kind of cookie guide or maybe temperature guide or something like that. But it can also be something that relates to your audience in general. For example, so I have a vegan food blog. One of my most popular opt-ins is a free guide, that’s called instant flavor. And it’s the four-part formula for turning your vegan meals from dull to delicious. So that’s something that anyone who’s visiting my blog and sees like, “Oh, this is a vegan blog. And I am interested in trying some vegan recipe even if they’re not vegan. Then, how I wonder, how can I do this? How can I make my meals more flavorful?”

Amy Katz: So it’s something that appeals to most people who visit the blog. But then I could also have another opt-in maybe say I have like a lot of instant pot recipes. So maybe within those instant pot posts, I could have some kind of email series that they can sign up to understand how to use all the functions on an instant pot. So that could be just like a three or five part email series and that’s very specific to those particular posts. So I’d only put that opt in form within those posts themselves.

Bjork Ostrom: I love that. And I also like the idea of, “Hey, if you’re not collecting email addresses start with a generic one that’s as best to fit as possible for your readers. You can put it everywhere.” And then like you said, maybe you can look at subcategories and then you drill down a little bit and say, “Hey, I have a subcategory of instant pots. I’m going to create something that’s a little bit more targeted for that kind of batch of content.” And then you could even look and say, “Hey, I know I have these two or three posts that are really popular. I’m going to create a hyper-targeted kind of sign up for those people.” And well, for Pinch of Yum, one of the things that we do in those instances is we’ll have people go through that specific series and after they go through that series, then they’ll go into the more generic one. Do you do something similar? Or how do you view structuring your content? And then we can jump back into some of those talking through some of those mistakes.

Amy Katz: Absolutely. So once someone signs up for one of my forms, then they do get the emails that are specific. It’s almost like an onboarding process if it were a business. So that they learn what to expect from you and it kind of trains them to open your emails. So as soon as they see your name in their inbox, they’re going to say, “Oh, wait, I want to read this.” And then from there they can go into your regular email sequence where maybe you send out seasonal recipes. Maybe you send out your latest posts. Maybe you have some special offers, something like that. So first you’re warming them up so that they’re used to getting emails from you and recognizing your name and then they go into the series with everyone else.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Cool. So you talked about that first mistake, not making it easy for people to get on the list like, “Hey, if this is something you want to prioritize, don’t make people search for it.” You don’t want them to have to think like, “Hey, I want to sign up for this.” Make it easy, make it obvious, put it in places where people are going to see it, giving them a good reason to sign up, offering something of value, all being really important. What are some of the other mistakes that you feel are important to highlight?

Amy Katz: This one may seem obvious, but it’s something that I think is very common with food bloggers is not actually sending out emails. So first we get all these people on our list and we’re really excited because we have a certain number of subscribers. But if you don’t actually do anything with those subscribers, then that number is just a vanity metric. It doesn’t mean anything. So I think getting into a routine of sending regular emails, it doesn’t really matter what your schedule is. I mean, I think people worry about, “Oh, what’s the best day of the week to send an email or what’s the best time of day?” But when it really comes down to it doesn’t matter.

Amy Katz: Just send an email and send it on a regular basis so that people don’t forget who you are. Because that’s one of the biggest reasons why people unsubscribe from emails. I know myself personally, sometimes I’ll sign up for something and I really liked the freebie, but then I don’t hear from them for weeks. And then when I do get another email, I can’t even remember who the person is so that might make me unsubscribe. So I think just setting out some kind of schedule that you can personally stick with, you can always modify it later, but just start emailing on a regular basis.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. What is your schedule? What do you use for frequency?

Amy Katz: I actually email my list three times a week. So they’re used to it, they’re used to hearing from me. So they get an email Monday, Wednesday, Friday, occasionally, I’ll switch up that schedule if there’s just something special, like a holiday or something where it makes sense to switch up those days. But for the most part, they can count on getting an email Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. And can you talk a little bit about email open rate. I know that you have a great open rate. Do you think that has to do with emailing more or is that making sure that you give people the option to unsubscribe if they want to? What does that look like and any of the numbers that you’re willing to share with your email list?

Amy Katz: I think that as far as open rate goes it’s a little bit harder to measure these days because with the changes with privacy settings. But myself, personally, I found that my email list gets a 45% to 50% open rate. And I think that has to do with a few factors. First of all having that regular email schedule so that people know when to expect the emails and they recognize my name. So when they see that, “Oh, Amy Veggies Save the Day sent me an email.” They know who I am and they’re more likely to open it. Then the other thing is that having all these email subscribers on your list may be great having this big number that you’re shooting for. But if people are not opening your emails, you really need to get them off your list. Because not only are you paying for those people to be on your list, who are never opening, it’s also affecting your open rate.

Amy Katz: So you can’t really see how well your emails are doing if you have people on your list that haven’t opened in three or six months. So I think quarterly is a great time to do it. So at the start of each quarter or at the end of each quarter, go through your email list and get rid of the people that haven’t opened. And if you’d like, you can do something where you send a few emails, just letting them know that, “Hey, it’s okay. I know that you’re busy. And if you don’t want to get these emails from me, go ahead and unsubscribe, I totally get it.” Something like that. You can just you can send either just that one email or you can send a short series of emails, just reminding them who you are. But if they unsubscribe, it’s nothing personal. It’s just everyone gets a lot of email these days. So it’s fine. I mean, just take them off your list and then you are not paying for that.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. And I think the point about not paying is important too. Not all email service providers are like this, but a lot of times it’ll be correlated. Your costs will be correlated to the number of subscribers you have. So it’s not only is it a cost-saving measure, but also to your point, “Hey, if somebody hasn’t opened in six months, there’s a very low likelihood that suddenly they’re going to become a really engaged user.” And different ways that you can do that. You could have an off-boarding email where you say, “Hey if you want to stay on, you can click here. Otherwise, we’ll transition you off or whatever it might be.” What email service provider do you use? And then can you talk a little bit about just at a high level, what that process actually looks like, that you go through once a quarter?

Amy Katz: Sure. I use ConvertKit and they make it really easy because you can sort your email subscribers by cold subscribers. So they classify cold subscribers as those people who haven’t opened your email in three months or more. So what I do is I just send just to those cold subscribers, those few emails asking if they still want to be on the list and reminding them who I am and why they signed up or how they got on the list. And so I’ll usually send two or three emails and I’ll space them out within a couple weeks. And then on the last one, I’ll say that “if I don’t hear back from you, you can unsubscribe yourself. Or if you don’t click this link telling me that you still want to be on the list, then I’ll go ahead and delete you.”

Amy Katz: So I give them a week to let me know. And what you can do is you can easily with any of these email service providers, you can set up a link to a landing page on your website and once they click that link, it’ll just be a landing page that says like, “Oh thank you for being a subscriber”, something like that. And that’s all you need. And then that way your email service provider will measure that they opened it and they click the link. And so it will no longer have them as a cold subscriber.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So a way to filter them out essentially, is to send out an email just to that group and say, “Hey, if you want to stay on, you can click here.” They click, it takes them to a page. It says, “Thanks. Looking forward to being in touch with you soon.” But essentially that then moves them out of that cold subscriber group. So the process could be once a quarter, once every six months, whatever you want it to be. You email that group, ask them to click that if they want to. And then if they don’t, then you remove them from the list, knowing that they’re not actually going to be opening these anyways so might as well not pay for them. And it’s a great way to kind of weeding the garden a little bit. You don’t want to have things that you don’t want. In this case, it’s people who you’re paying to have as part of your email list, but who aren’t actually opening emails.

Amy Katz: Exactly. And some people worry about, “Well, what if they really did want to be on my list?” Well, they can always go and subscribe again. It’s no big deal.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. That’s great. I think to this point, the mistake of not actually sending out emails. I think one of the things that would be motivating for people and would encourage them to send emails out more would be a clear purpose behind it. So when you think of your emails, what are you thinking of in terms of the value that you’re getting from that? Is it traffic? Is it sponsors? Is it just being top of mind? How do you look at that for your business?

Amy Katz: That’s a great question. Well, I think that email is not only a great way to connect with your audience on a personal level and kind of create those super fans. It’s also a great way to generate income and there are multiple ways that you can do this. First thing I want to point out, is that if you’re with an ad network, I’m with AdThrive, and I can look in my dashboard and I can see what the RPM is from different sources. And if you go and look at your numbers, it’s pretty much guaranteed the direct traffic is going to be one of your highest RPM generators. So Google is always one of the highest and then direct traffic, which is email. Direct traffic includes other things like people going directly to your site. But for the most part, it’s going to be a lot of email.

Amy Katz: And it’s a lot higher than RPM from Pinterest and especially a lot higher from social media, like Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. So besides getting people over to your site, you’re going to earn more ad revenue if they’re coming directly to you through your emails. So that’s one thing to keep in mind, that it’s always great to put links to your posts in your emails, because you are going to generate more ad revenue that way. But then another way you can earn more income through email is by selling things. So maybe you’re food blogger and you have an ebook, or you have a course. So you can not only tell people about your offers within your emails themselves. You can also set up what’s called a trip wire. So what that means is that when someone comes to your site and signs up for your email list, they’ll put in their name and email address, and then it’ll direct them to a page thanking them for signing up.

Amy Katz: And then you can say on that same page, “Well, since you signed up for this instant pot email series, did you know that I also have an instant pot course?” And you could offer it to them at a discount, maybe 50% off saying, “Hey, thank you for being a subscriber. Check your inbox in a few minutes. But while you wait, I would love to tell you about this course I have. And because you’re a special subscriber, I’d like to offer it to you for the next 20 minutes at 50% off or something like that.” And because you know they’re already interested in instant pot because they signed up for that email list. Then it’s a natural fit that you’re going to tell them about this product that you have.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. When I think of where we see that in most obvious ways is Food Blogger Pro. It’s one of the main ways that we are interacting with people and letting people know that they can sign up for Food Blogger Pro is through email. And that’s why you see when you go to foodbloggerpro.com, one of the first things that we have is an offer to sign up for the email list. It says ‘Start, grow, monetize your blog with Food Blogger Pro.’ And then our value ad is “discover the 16 ways you can make money from your blog”, first name, email address. And so it’s interesting to hear you talk about that because it’s really true for us when we are selling a product. And I think it’s one of the ways that a lot of food bloggers are missing the opportunity and opportunities by selling a product or a course or something that is helping people within the specific niche that they’re in.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s cool to hear that. So idea being different types of traffic have different types of value. And what you were saying is direct traffic is really valuable traffic from an ad perspective, which you can verify by looking at your dashboard within AdThrive or potentially Mediavine. Whatever the ad network it is, you can see how that’s kind of broken out. So that’s one thing that’s valuable traffic and directing people back to your blog is an important or a good way to do that. The second thing is, it’s a great way to let people know about something you’re selling. And especially, if it’s a niche thing that’s connected to the niche thing that somebody just signed up for. So if they signed up for something instant pot-related, you have something to offer those people that’s instant pot-related.

Bjork Ostrom: Of course, it makes sense to mention it and probably to mention it as a part of kind of an automation. So you write the email once and everybody who signs up for it continually gets that some of the great things about online businesses is you can set up stuff like that. So I love that. I think it’s super smart. One of the things we’re also trying with Pinch of Yum is we’re starting to do email sponsors. I think you have to be at a certain level in terms of email subscribers, but working with brands to say, “Hey, do you want to sponsor an email? When we send one out, we know this many people will get it. This many people will open it. Here’s what we charge for that.” And so it’s not Instagram, it’s not a blog post, but it’s in the email that we get as a subscriber.

Bjork Ostrom: So before we move on from this, I’d be curious to know. So if you’re sending out three emails a week, what do those emails include? And how long does it take you to write that? Cause I’m guessing some people are like, “Ah, I’m trying to do two blog posts a week. And then if I have two emails or three emails, and then I’m trying to do social.” It could potentially seem overwhelming. So what do those three emails that you send include in terms of content and how long does it take you to draft those and send them out?

Amy Katz: That’s a great question. So the way that I do it is I have one email is dedicated to something either seasonal or a new blog post, or maybe an updated blog post. And then the other two emails are more evergreen. So what I do is in ConvertKit, the one email is sent out as a broadcast is what they call it. And then the other two emails are part of a sequence or a series. So the series emails, I can set those up way ahead of time. Just like your onboarding sequence, a welcome series or whatever, when someone signs up. You can have maybe three to five emails there. I can have a year’s worth of emails set up ready to go. That is just part of a sequence.

Amy Katz: So that once they’re done onboarding, they’re automatically put in that sequence and they automatically get those two emails a week. So I can set those up ahead of time and I don’t have to be continuously writing those. So what I’ll usually do is I’ll batch that, so that maybe once a quarter, I’ll go through and I’ll add more emails to that sequence. And then the nice thing about that is you’re getting continuous traffic to those blog posts because everyone is going through that sequence, but at a different time.

Amy Katz: And then on the broadcast email, everyone on my list, who’s already been through the welcome series, is getting that broadcast. So I want to keep that relevant for now. And those are ones that I can write once a week and it will take me maybe 20 minutes at the most to write that email. So it’s not a big effort on my part doing that. What I do is I work it into my regular process of doing my blog post. So once I’m done with the blog post ready to publish it. It’s kind of like your process of maybe you go in and pin it to Pinterest. Well, I’m going to go in and write my email and schedule that one for the week.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s interesting. I love that idea of a hybrid of batching along with real-time emails and that would be the broadcast. Broadcast, simply meaning you’re going in, maybe you schedule it, but it’s not like you’re scheduling it three months from now. You’re scheduling it, maybe like an hour or you’re essentially sending it in real-time. You could talk about something that happened yesterday. It’s going to go out in time for people to see it and read it and know like, “Hey, this is relevant.” Whereas, my guess is for the other two emails that you’re scheduling away ahead of time. It’s not like you’re going to reference current events, but you are going to include a piece of content that’s going to be helpful for that person, for that specific subscriber in whatever bucket they’re in. So you could say, “Hey, three months from now, I know this vegan burger recipes still going to be good.”

Bjork Ostrom: And maybe it doesn’t really matter when it is that it, that it goes out, it’s going to be helpful. And so I can just schedule this and is the idea that you’re building that out. And when you say once a quarter, are you essentially just extending that?

Amy Katz: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: …longer and longer. So every quarter it gets three months longer. So somebody who signs up a year from now, at that point, there might be three or four years worth of two emails a week scheduled for them to receive. And every quarter you’re just kind of building that out. So you have this really long funnel where people will, even if you decide to not touch anything with your blog, they’ll still get these two emails a week. But if you also then show up and broadcast an email, then they’ll get three. Is that right?

Amy Katz: That’s exactly right. And that brings me to another point that I think a lot of people don’t think about is that you can reuse your content. So these emails that you wrote once it’s not something that, “Oh, I sent it once and that’s it. I spent all this time on it and went out once and that’s the end of that.” No, you can reuse these emails. Actually, if you write sort of shorter emails, you can easily use the same content for your social media captions as well, works very well like as Instagram captions. But you can also take parts of your email and send it again later on. If you have hundreds of blog posts, no one’s going to remember that you sent out this one veggie burger recipe two years ago to them. I mean, even if it was six months ago, they’re not going to remember.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re so close to our content, we forget that. And I think sometimes we’re hesitant, be like, “Hey, I published this on my blog. I don’t want to then send an email about it too because I don’t want to disrupt people.” And it’s like, oh my gosh, people have so much going on. They have no idea.

Amy Katz: Exactly. And even if someone does have a really good memory. When they see that email the second time it’ll probably spark something like, “Oh, that’s right. I wanted to try that recipe. I’m going to go back and do that now.” So it doesn’t matter if they do remember that they saw it before, they’re still going to want to get that information again. So I think that reusing, repurposing content is such a great way to save time and it’s good for your audience as well.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. So we’ve talked about a few different things here. Number one, we talked about not speaking in your own voice. Is that an official, one of the mistakes?

Amy Katz: Yes, that is one.

Bjork Ostrom: So trying to relate to people, making sure that you’re speaking in your own voice, not making it easy people to get on the list. So like, “Hey, make sure that if you have this list that people see it, but then also they have a good reason to sign up.” The third one, which I think is really important, really overlooked, like you said, obvious, but also so important that people need to send out emails. It’s a mistake if you’re not actually sending out those emails and then this idea of reusing your own content or the mistake is to not reuse your old content and making sure to look at your content as it relates to email, it doesn’t have to be new. It can be stuff that you already created that you want to make sure that people continue to see and shining a light on that old content. So anything else that you’d point out here in terms of mistakes that you see people make often when it comes to email?

Amy Katz: I think that’s about it. But also don’t forget about the one to make money from your emails.

Bjork Ostrom: Actually use it as a profit center.

Amy Katz: And you had a good point about sponsored emails. That’s something that I would like to get into. But even if someone isn’t there yet, another way that they can make money from their emails is through affiliate marketing. And when I say affiliate marketing, I’m not talking about Amazon because Amazon does not allow you to put links to products within your emails. But of course you can send them to a blog post. So say you had a blog post about like, I don’t know, 4th of July party essentials or something like that. Then you could have the links within your blog post and you’re sending them to that blog post from your email.

Amy Katz: So that would be one way with affiliate marketing, particularly Amazon. But if it’s something that’s not Amazon, say you’re an affiliate for a brand, say you signed up for their affiliate program. Or maybe it’s even like a friend of yours that has like, we we’re talking about that instant pot course. Maybe it’s a friend of yours that has the instant pop course and you’re an affiliate for them. You can certainly put in your emails about that product and share your affiliate link there.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I don’t remember the specifics of it, but this would be worth pointing out. If somebody has a contact that they have with Amazon associates. I don’t remember the specifics of what we did. But we have a separate agreement with Amazon and a separate tag that we do for tracking that allows us to do affiliate content within emails. So it’d be worth mentioning for people if they want to dig into it. Worth noting is that it doesn’t perform very well. So it’s not like this thing that we’re able to create a lot of income from. But it was something that we did connect with Amazon and they’re like, “Well, under our normal agreement, we can’t. But we can set up a separate agreement for email that they monitor and track differently.” And I don’t remember the specifics of it, but I wanted to point that out in case anybody would want to look into that.

Bjork Ostrom: So a few different things to recap, again, not speaking in your own voice, not making it easy for people to get on the email list, not actually sending out emails, not reusing your content and not making money from your email and really seeing it as a valuable profit center for your business. One of the things you said is your email open rate is really good, 40% to 50% is awesome. Part of that has to do with making sure that on a quarterly basis, you’re removing cold subscribers. But I’m guessing there’s some other things that you’re doing that are strategic around making sure that you get that open rate up. Would you have any advice for people who maybe have lower open rates, in terms of how they can increase that open rate and get more people to actually open and interact with the email?

Amy Katz: I think that one of the things that we already mentioned was sending on a regular basis so that people are expecting emails from you and they recognize your name in their inbox. So that helps a lot because it’s like if your friend emailed you and you saw their name in your inbox, you’re going to open it right away. So I think if you can build a relationship like that with your subscribers, that helps a lot. And I think a lot of that comes down to the first emails that they get from you. So if you’re offering them a free ebook or guide or whatever it is. You want to make sure that those first emails, a lot of people call them a nurture series because you’re really nurturing that relationship. And maybe you’re asking them questions to get to know them better.

Amy Katz: You want to just make sure that you have that nurture series or that welcome sequence down. So it’s good to review that from time to time as well. If you’re not getting a good open rate on those first emails, that would be the first place that I would start. And maybe you need to just tweak those a little bit. But also having your subscribers respond back to you is always a great thing to do as well. You can ask them questions, you can ask them what they need help with. I mean, I know a lot of people do that. “What’s your biggest struggle with blank?” But I think that gets to be a little generic.

Amy Katz: So I think if you can narrow it down a little bit, you can have it specific to what that actual email was about. Say you sent out that veggie burger email, even asking them something more specific, like what’s your favorite topping for burgers? Do you like ketchup or do you like mustard? And then it makes it easy for them to just reply back, “Oh, I like mustard. I hate ketchup or something.”

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about why that’s important, the act of them replying? What is it about that’s important and why does that play into open rate?

Amy Katz: It’s important for a few reasons. First of all, if you use something like Gmail or even Hotmail as this now where there’s emails that go into different folders, so you wanted to go in their primary email folder. If they respond back to you, then their email considers that one of their contact friend. So it will put it in their main inbox versus the promotions. And hopefully it will definitely end up not in the spam folder that way. So having them reply back to you is a great way for that, but it also helps with the tracking, because now with all the privacy controls, it’s harder for the email service providers to measure that open. But if it’s someone replies back to you or they click, then it’s definitely going to measure that as an open.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So point being, one of the things we’re trying to do as we interact with people is become less of a generic brand sending product stuff that is invaluable and more of an email that somebody’s looking forward to and they actually open and they actually interact with. And I think as we often talk about on the podcast, it’s important to look past the tip with it, to see what is actually happening. And what’s actually happening is these tools, Gmail, Hotmail, whatever it is trying. They’re trying to distinguish between what’s something that’s not valuable that we should deprioritize and what’s something that we should place a stronger emphasis on and put it more in front of you. And the things that they want to put more in front of you are the things that you actually like and enjoy, and you interact with.

Bjork Ostrom: And so a huge piece of that and probably why you have a good open rate is because it’s content that’s actually valuable for people. That they’re getting something from, that’s relevant to where they are in life. And I think it’s important to point that out within all of this is that’s always what we should be doing is figuring out how do we get as close to that as possible. And it’s cool to see you doing that, where you get to these really high open rates. So coming to the end here, I’d be curious to hear your advice to yourself starting out. One of the questions I’d like to ask when you go back to 2015. What would you say to yourself that you know now that you wish you would’ve known at that point when you were starting?

Amy Katz: Well, I definitely wish I had known more about email marketing back then. I would’ve just told myself not to worry so much about what everyone else is doing and just stay true to myself and send those emails out and build a relationship with people. Because really that’s one of the reasons why a lot of us get into food blogging is because we do want to share our knowledge and our recipes and that sense of community with people who follow us. So email is the perfect way to do that.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Amy, do you talk about this on your site or where can people follow along if they just want to follow you and your recipes and try those out? What’s the best way to stay in touch? My guess is sign up for the email list. That would be one of them.

Amy Katz: That’s a great way. You can visit my site at veggiessavetheday.com. And I’m also on social media everywhere, Veggies Save the Day, particularly on Instagram, I’m more active there. So feel free to send me a DM. If you’d like to discuss email or send me an email, [email protected].

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great, Amy. Thanks so much for coming on.

Amy Katz: Thanks so much, Bjork. It’s been great being here.

Leslie Jeon: Hello. Hello. Leslie here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We really hope that you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Before we sign off, I wanted to mention one of the most robust features of a Food Blogger Pro membership, and that’s our courses. So in case you’re not familiar, as soon as you sign up for a Food Blogger Pro membership, you immediately get access to all of our courses on Food Blogger Pro. And we have lots and lots, hours upon hours of courses for you to check out, ranging on all different topics from SEO to photography, to video, to all types of social media, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube. The list goes on and on. And all of these courses have been recorded by our Food Blogger Pro team or by our industry experts by all of the Food Blogger Pro experts that we have on our team.

Leslie Jeon: And we are constantly going in and updating old courses so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best information possible as you’re working to grow your blog, to grow your business. The courses are the best way to learn how to do that. So like I mentioned, you can get access to all of our courses by joining Food Blogger Pro. So if you’d like to do that, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/join, to learn more about our membership and join the community. We really hope that you enjoy checking out our courses. They’re one of my favorite parts of a Food Blogger Pro membership, just because we have so much knowledge for you to check out there. I think that’s everything we’ve got for you this week, though. Thanks again for tuning in and for listening to the podcast. And until next time, we hope you have a great week.

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