228: Focus – The Freedom of a Niche with Isabel Orozco-Moore

An image of a camera on a table and the title of the 228th episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Focus.'

Welcome to episode 228 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Isabel Orozco-Moore about leaning into a niche, delegating tasks, and more.

Last week on the podcast, we reshared an episode about food photography with Rachel Korinek. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Focus 

It seems a little counterintuitive that finding a niche, or a specialized focus, can actually give you more freedom as a blogger, but that’s exactly what Isabel found when she decided to rebrand and really fine-tune her niche. By hunkering down and really focusing on Mexican cuisine, Isabel has been able to strengthen her brand and exercise her expertise.

But that’s not all that Isabel and Bjork cover in this episode. In just four years, Isabel has gone all-in on turning her blog into a business, and this episode focuses on that journey. From monetization to hiring to delegating to getting nominated for a Saveur Award, we know you’ll find useful and actionable tips in this episode. Enjoy!

A quote from Isabel Orozco-Moore’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'I think making the decision to focus on Mexican food also gave me a little comfort.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How she was nominated for a Saveur Award
  • How and why she rebranded her blog
  • Why she decided to focus on her niche
  • How she monetizes her blog
  • How she hired a virtual assistant
  • How to make a Keep-Delegate-Delete list
  • How to get better at specific tasks

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Resources:

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

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Transcript:

Alexa Peduzzi: Welcome to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Alexa here, and we are so excited that you’re here. I’m especially excited about this new episode because we’re actually interviewing a friend of mine, Isabel from the beautiful blog Isabel Eats. And the focus for today’s episode is focus, meaning finding a focus, or as we call it in the biz, a niche, and really leaning into that focus. And then we’re going to go a bit further and Understand that a focus actually gives you more freedom than having no focus at all. It’s a little counterintuitive, but I think it’ll make sense as you get into the episode.

Alexa Peduzzi: But that’s not all. This episode is also jam packed with helpful tips for food bloggers that Isabel has learned in her four years of blogging. From how she was nominated for a 2019 Savour Award, how she rebranded, how she monetizes, and what her keep, delegate, delete list is. Our goal with this episode is that you find some inspiration if you’re feeling a little lost, or like you don’t really identify with your brand. We are just so excited to share this episode with you today, so without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Isabel, welcome to the podcast.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Hello, thank you for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we’re excited to talk to you today, there’s a couple different things that we are going to dive into, but before we do that I just want to say congratulations, you were nominated for a Savour Award, most inspired weeknight meal. And would love to hear what that was like, how did you get that call, how did you hear about that? Did you have any idea that that was happening behind the scenes?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Well first, thank you. So I didn’t know that it was happening at all, really, but I knew that the blog awards were a thing, because I follow a lot of food bloggers on Instagram, and people were saying, “Hey, I’m going … will you nominate me?” Or something like that. So I saw that and I asked my husband actually, I asked my husband, “Hey, would you nominate me for something?” He’s like, “Yeah, sure, of course.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The ultimate supportive husband, “Of course I will.”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. So I sent him the link while he was at work, to his Slack, and I was like, “Okay, here’s the link, just fill it out,” whatever. And I … there’s different categories of nominations, and I was actually mainly wanting to be nominated for … I think it’s like the best food culture blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Just because my blog is mostly Mexican recipes. And that’s what I was expecting, and I think that’s what he nominated me for. So the nomination … people have like, I don’t know, maybe one or two weeks to nominate someone, and then they close. And then the editors of Savour pick who the nominees are. And I got an email … or no, I didn’t even get an email, at first I found out on Instagram, someone tagged me saying that I was nominated. I was like, “What?” And immediately I told my husband.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: But I was surprised that I was nominated for the weeknight meals, and not the food culture blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So yeah, so then I got an email and that was that.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. With most inspired weeknight meal, with that nomination, is there one specific recipe they’re looking at, or are they saying as a whole when we look at your blog we think that this is like hey, really good weeknight meal recipes?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: You know, I have no idea what their criteria is.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I think you do put in maybe a paragraph or two about why you’re nominating the blog for this specific category, and I think maybe you can highlight … like add a link to a post that you think really represents the blog well. But it’s really kind of just out of our hands, it’s-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I have no idea what their process is like.

Bjork Ostrom: Kind of a black box.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: In terms of the decision making process. Totally. Well congratulations on that. Interesting that you mention that you had thought that you were going to be nominated for another category, remind me the name of that category that you thought that it was?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I think it’s best food culture-

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Let me see … yeah, best food culture blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And that’s actually one of the topics that I’d be interested in talking to you about, because as you’ve mentioned, a lot of the recipes, the majority of the recipes on your blog are Mexican recipes. And I know that you’ve also gone through the process of rebranding your blog, the name of your blog.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: And that’s something that a lot of people I know are thinking about, they’re wondering, “Is my brand right? Is my niche right?” And I would be interested for you to take me back before the rebrand, and what were you blogging about, what was the name of your blog, and at what point did you realize, hey, I think it makes sense to start thinking about doing a rebrand?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so when I first started blogging it was back in 2015, and it was really just like a fun way for me to share anything interesting that I was learning, or doing. Not that it was sharing it with anyone, because nobody knew about it. It was basically like … it was back in the day, Live Journal, Xanga days if you remember that.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally, yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, it was like a personal journal type of thing. And I got the idea of doing a blog because I was just looking for something fun to do, and I started watching a ton of YouTube videos about whatever. And I really got sucked into this channel that was about vegetable gardening, and how to compost, and all that stuff.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And I remember the woman whose channel it was, she was very normal, she showed you how to do things in her normal backyard, it wasn’t anything fancy.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: The video production was … you know, like a normal, probably with an iPhone.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And I just thought it was so cool. I was like, I can do that myself. And so I kind of did. I’m kind of dorky, so I love … I would love to learn how to code, and like CSS styling and all of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I kind of just like jumped right in, and Googled, “How do I start a blog?” And all of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And so I had no idea what I wanted to blog about. So I remember sitting on the couch talking to my husband about okay, what could this blog be about? I need to … at that point I was like I need to niche down, I can’t just blog about everything.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So it was like okay, I’m starting a garden, so what if it’s gardening stuff? I cook often, so what if it’s food stuff? And at the time I had one cat, I have two cats now.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice, yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I was like okay, what if I also post pictures of my cat, sure. So then that’s how I landed on my first blog name which was From Cats to Cooking, because I thought-

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s kind of like, hey, covers everything.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So that’s exactly what I blogged about, just whatever was on my mind. But then I really started diving into … like looking at other blogs, and reading other blogs, and I realized that people were actually making money from them, and that it could be a nice little side business if I wanted it to be. But if I wanted it to be that, I would have to kind of really focus on what it was that I was sharing.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Or at least it would be easier to grow that way.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And what do you mean by that? Can you expand on that a little bit?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so I think if you focus on one thing, I think you can easily … people will easily be able to see that blog and say, “Oh, okay, this person is all about Mexican food,” so that person will become the resource for Mexican food whenever you’re in the kitchen wanting to cook tacos or something. So it’s just easy for … I think it makes it easier for people to get to know you that way, and then later on, if you’re looking to branch out a little more, at least people already know who you are-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And they won’t be super surprised about other things that you’re doing.

Bjork Ostrom: I think of it as an analogy to stores. And if you think of stores that you go to, almost all of them will have a really specific thing that they do. They’ll be a bakery, or it’ll be an athletic store, or you’ll go somewhere and you’ll get shoes. And it’s like oh, I know I want to get shoes, and I want to get athletic shoes, I know that I’m going to go and get those from Nike, or Under Armor, or whatever it would be. And I think the same applies for a blog online, and I think the distinction that you made that’s really interesting is you had said, “I kind of had this realization that this could become a thing, this could become a business, but if it did, I would need to go through the intentional process of saying what is this thing doing? How is it serving people and what is the niche?” And in a way, you’re kind of thinking through what is the store? When people come here, what do they expect to see and get? And when they arrive, you want to be sure that you’re presenting that.

Bjork Ostrom: And there are the Walmarts of the world, and the Targets of the world that kind of have everything, but they’re also these massive, massive, massive stores. And you can have a blog that does that, but it’s a really hard thing to do, to have this kind of catchall, even if it’s broad recipes in general, right? So I think it’s really wise that you, especially early on, went through this process of saying, “Okay, I kind of want this to become a thing. If I want it to become a thing, I need to figure out what specific kind of niche that I’m focusing on.” And then my guess is at that point, you also though, “I should probably go through a rebranding process, and I’ll have to let go of some things along the way.” Like you could still post pictures of your cat, but it’s probably not going to be once a week you’re doing blog posts on that. Like you have to let some of that content go.

Bjork Ostrom: So walk me through the process of … let’s say you made that decision, you kind of left us off there, what did you do next to say, “Okay, here are the steps I’m going to take to go through this rebranding and refreshing process for the site.”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. Well, first I had to make the decision about what I was going to focus on. And I pretty much wrote out all the things up to that point that I really enjoyed writing about, and what I felt like I could write about for a long time and not get bored.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And one of those things was Mexican food, because it kind of just … well first of all, I am Mexican, so it kind of comes naturally. And that’s kind of the food that I grew up with. At the time I was living in Pittsburgh, and my entire fire is in Oklahoma. So I was really missing my family, and Pittsburgh has a very small Hispanic population. So I was extra missing them because-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I didn’t even hear the language often. I remember I’d get on the phone and talk to my mom and I’d forget some words in Spanish and I’m like-

Bjork Ostrom: And you’re like, “Ahhh-”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: No, I can’t forget how to-

Bjork Ostrom: “No.”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I know, it was so sad. So I think making the decision to focus on Mexican food also kind of gave me a little comfort, like okay, I can at least connect through this food that I grew up eating and that my parents are currently still making today.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I decided that, and I was definitely very nervous about niching down, because you immediately think, oh my gosh, what if there aren’t enough ideas around Mexican food? What if I run out of things to talk about about Mexican food? Well, there are so many ideas, and you can-

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Create content your entire life around that topic.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Which I quickly realized, but yeah, that was a big fear. But so once I decided Mexican food, I knew I had to probably change the name of my blog because From Cats to Cooking didn’t really …

Bjork Ostrom: It doesn’t really communicate the essence of-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: No.

Bjork Ostrom: Mexican cuisine.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: No. And people actually … I remember someone sent me an email about them thinking that the blog was about cooking cats.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, sure, so you’re like, “This maybe needs to be addressed.”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, yeah. Maybe we should change that. And I knew that maybe someday in the future it would be more than just Mexican food, I wanted it to be also a little bit more personal, so that’s why I decided to put my actual name-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: In the blog name. So I decided, okay, Isabel Eats. That gives me room to grow if I ever want to grow.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I decided on that, and then I knew I had-

Bjork Ostrom: And I think … a real quick point on that that I think is important to point out, I think there’s a lot of wisdom for you to say, “I want a broad name, and maybe what I’ll do is … ” I talk about this when people are going through the rebranding process, pick a broad name and a specific tagline, because the name long term is going to be harder to change, but your tagline and your focus can evolve. And examples would be Zappos, or Amazon. Like if Amazon started out as bookstore.com, it’d be really hard to expand out into web services, or clothing, or basically everything in the world.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think picking a broad name, Isabel Eats, and then a specific kind of tagline or focus, which right now for you that’s Mexican food, allows you, like you said, long term to expand out. So just a quick point on that, to shine a light on that for other people who are thinking about going through that rebranding process, I think that’s a really wise move. So I just wanted to point that out.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, thanks.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So after I picked the name, I knew I had to tell my audience. And at the time it was very small, but it was honestly more of a thing for me. Like it was … I wanted to write a post saying, “I am changing the direction of the blog,” not that anyone was really, really listening.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Because when was this? At what point?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I think it was like one year in, when I started getting serious about it, so like 2016.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I wrote a post and I just said … why I’m deciding to change it, because I wanted to get more in touch with my Mexican culture, and it’s something that I knew really well, and I wanted to share that. And I saw that there were a few Mexican food blogs, but there’s not a lot. And so I wrote that post and published it, and kind of just went from there.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think there’s something … like you said, even if nobody would’ve noticed, or at that point it’s still really early on, I think there’s something personally for declaring and saying, “Here’s the point,” and even historically to go back and look and say, “This is the point at which I switched focus,” and it’s nice to have some type of kind of declaration, even if it’s just for you, to say, “Here’s how things change, and here’s what it’s going to look like moving forward.”

Bjork Ostrom: So were there specifics in terms of the technical aspect of doing that rebrand? At at that point, when you published that post, had you switched over the domain name as well? And what was that process like? Was there anything that you learned going through the technical side of updating your site?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so I think at that point I had changed the domain name. So I found one that I liked, I purchased it on my own, and then I kind of knew that I … doing all that technical stuff was not going to be my forte. So I-

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. As much as you liked it, talking about liking CSS-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Oh yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And HTML, and I’m the same way. I would love to geek out on that stuff, but you just have to realize you can’t do everything, you can’t be good at photography, and writing, and recipe development, and CSS, and HTML, and CEO. Like-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So wise again. So what did you do, what decision did you make as it relates to that?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I think I found someone in a Facebook group to change the domain for me, I hired someone.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And it was a very low cost. I guess it’s not really a big deal, but I didn’t know how to do it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I hired someone to do that, and I think they redirected the URL to-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: The old URL to my new one. Which I don’t think it redirects anymore, which is fine, because there’s no traffic-

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Going there anyway.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And so for anybody else that’s thinking through that, that’s an important consideration, that redirect that you talked about. And for you, it was still early on so it’s lower stakes versus like if you were to do it now-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Three or four years down the line. But for anybody else who’s thinking about doing that, the most important thing, the thing you need to jot down, is this idea of a 301 redirect. And if you are thinking of doing any type of update to your site or to your blog, make sure that you have … when the domain changes that you have this thing called a 301 redirect. Which it not only redirects people to … if they click on a link to go to the page, but there’s also an SEO benefit where Google then sees those links as continuing to pass authority to the new posts.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s one of the higher stakes things, especially for people who are doing this down the line, but for you it’s nice that it was relatively early on that you did this, because you didn’t have to worry about it as much. It was similar to when Lindsay and I switched Pinch of Yum from Tumblr to Word Press, so this is way back in the day, and it was probably around the same time. We had been blogging for probably about a year, and we’re like, “What is this thing called Word Press?” Everybody’s talking about it and it’s-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Supposed to be so awesome. We think Tumblr’s cool, but apparently Word Press is the place to be. So we switched all the content over and it was like this really manual process, I had no idea what I was doing. I was downloading HTML and uploading it, and it was a whole to-do. So I think really wise to get somebody to help with that.

Bjork Ostrom: So what was that like after you made the switch, you rebranded, you decided to niche down, to focus on a specific niche. Did you notice anything different around what it was like for you to create content? Because as you mentioned before, sometimes people would be a little bit nervous about like hey, maybe I won’t know what to write about, maybe I’ll run out of stuff. Did you notice that to be the case, or was it almost the opposite, where now that you had these kind of artificial boundaries that you put in place, was it actually easier?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yes, the latter, it was so much easier. So at first I had ideas about posts that I could write. And a small list of things that I thought, okay, these are Mexican staples, I know I can do this, let me start there. And as I started creating those, I got more and more ideas, and more and more. And it’s easier to focus on it because you’re not thinking, oh, let me make something that’s Italian, or let me make this, or that, and especially because I already had knowledge about the ingredients, and peppers, and cooking with dried chilies and things like that, I didn’t feel like I had to learn all of that on my own and then try to teach it someone else. I already had that knowledge, so-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: It just made-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Things a lot easier.

Bjork Ostrom: I think there’s something to be said about figuring out what … like where is your depth of knowledge, where does your knowledge go the deepest? Because one of the things that we are learning on Food Blogger Pro, for the courses that we’re creating, is hey, let’s try and talk about the things that we already know and are interested in, as opposed to, like you said, trying to learn something and teach something. And I think people more than they know have a depth of knowledge in a certain area. Even if you feel like, yeah, I don’t really have anything that I’m especially interested in, or that I know, chances are people come to you with questions around something. For you, Isabel, it might be hey, how do you … what is your go-to margarita recipe? Or how would you do … what’s your favorite mojito, I’m looking through your page right now, so I’m pulling these in. Sangria, what’s your favorite sangria recipe? It wouldn’t have to be all alcohol, but that’s just-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m on the drink recipe section, so that’s why I am there.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Meanwhile, it’s like 9:00 a.m.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right, exactly, right. Maybe that’s what we could do, it could be a new tradition for the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, is having some type of drink that we have along with it. Alcoholic or nonalcoholic, but maybe not at 9:00 a.m.

Bjork Ostrom: So point being, for those who are listening to the podcast, think about what your knowledge area is, where you go the deepest, and it sounds like Isabel, for you, you said, “Hey, I have this … ” It probably was even like a part, like kind of on the soul level, like who you were. Do you feel like you knew that you knew that? Or did you almost have to go through the process of discovering like, oh my gosh, I actually know a lot about this just through osmosis of being around it, of absorbing it with my parents, on my own when I’m trying to connect to my family being away. What was that like to discover your authority, essentially?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. I mean, in the beginning I had no idea that I did know so much about Mexican food. Because it just came … like you said, I just grew up around it, I just thought it was normal.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And because it wasn’t really what I had focused on when I started the blog, that first year, I was kind of all over the place, I was posting things … things that were very trendy, like gluten free, and Paleo, and-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Things like that. But my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t-

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: As interested as I thought I was once I sat down to write those things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And when once I said, okay, Mexican food, and I sat down to write posts about it, a lot of the things just came naturally and I could just say, “Oh, yeah, this is how you deal with dried chilies and use them in cooking.” I didn’t have to look that up, I just kind of knew.

Bjork Ostrom: Knew.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And I didn’t realize that it was a strength of mine until people would come up to me and say, “Oh, that’s how you do it, okay, great.” I remember I would … while I was still in Pittsburgh I would come visit my family in Oklahoma, and I would come home and specifically for my mom’s rice, and her enchilada sauce, I literally followed her around in the kitchen and wrote down every-

Bjork Ostrom: Cool.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Single thing she did.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, it’s like documenting her brain, probably. Because she’s probably not using a recipe, it’s just all stored in her head.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Oh, yeah. And she’s throwing pinches of things in there-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And I’m like, “No, mom, wait.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, measure, measure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. And so that type of experience, and just knowing-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: What my mom’s rice always tastes like and trying to recreate that, like not a lot of people have that. So-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Yep. So I’d be interested at this point to start talking about what that’s like running the blog as a business, because you knew that that was something that you wanted to do, and you were intentional in setting it up in a way where you’re focusing on a niche, where you’re rebranding, and you’re thinking okay, I want this to become something where it’s a thing.

Bjork Ostrom: So at this point, from a business perspective, if you were to say kind of percentage wise, would there be a pie graph of like, I make the majority of my income from ads, I make a little bit from sponsors, a little bit from affiliate, all ads? If you were to break it out, what does that look like?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so right now I would say ads are probably like 75%. And then sponsored this year was probably 20%, and then affiliate was small, 5%.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Got it. And on the sponsored content side of things, are you having to say no to certain sponsors who might not fit within your niche? I think that’s another worry that people might have in niching down, is that it closes other opportunities. Or do you find that it’s the opposite, where because you have this really clearly defined niche that people come to you because they’re like, “Hey, we know our brand is a really good fit for what you’re doing.” What is that like, working with sponsors, and how has that been?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. Well at first it was definitely hard because as you’re growing you just don’t have … you’re still small, so you don’t have as many opportunities as you would once you’re a little bigger. So I did find myself taking on sponsors that probably weren’t the best fit. But honestly, I feel like that’s how you learn.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: You do that job and then you realize, oh, that was not that great.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I should probably not do that again.

Bjork Ostrom: There was … this was really on in the process for Pinch of Yum, and it was some type of like protein shake thing-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And we did a sponsored content for it, and that’s exactly like what you’re talking about, where you’re like, wow, this was terrible.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And not a good fit. And the hard part is … uncoupling the ask, when somebody reaches out and they say, “We like your blog, we want to work with you, we want to pay you,” with the branding and audience fit. And it’s really hard in the early stages when either somebody reaches out to you, or there’s a connection, and they say, “Yes, we want to work with you, we want to pay you,” to say no to it. That’s really hard to do. And I think what it requires is to go through the process-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Multiple times to then realize, hey, this isn’t worth it. And then to have that taste of that relationship linger long enough to then remember that the next time that it happens. So what would your advice be for other people who are trying to figure that out as they navigate doing sponsored content with their niche, and making sure that things are a good match? How do you go about doing that?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so … okay, so first you … as much as I can say try to stay to yourself, and try to work with brands that you love, sometimes you’re just not going to do that, and then we were talking about you’ll just learn on your own. You’ll just learn that it’s not a great fit. And then once you do have that experience, just try to remember when someone reaches out to you that … remember how you felt when you published that post and you had to promote it, and you weren’t that excited about it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Like you don’t want to do that again.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I think just realizing that just because someone reaches out to you with an offer, doesn’t mean you have to say yes. This is your business, and you get to decide whether you want to pursue that or not.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. And for people to know, for Pinch of Yum, we’re coming up on 10 years and are still figuring this out. We’re still navigating what that’s like, and how to do that well. So you will never arrive and be like-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And now I have made it to the point of understanding exactly how things will play out, and exactly how things match up as it relates to a brand, with my brand. It’s a continual evolution, but to be intentional about it. One of the things that I think would be helpful post-sponsored content, post-relationship, is to kind of a debrief, and to say, “Hey, here’s what went great, here’s what didn’t go well.” I try and do that each week. So I look back at the week, here’s what went well, here’s what didn’t go so well, and I think you can do that with sponsorships as well. So you have that documented somewhere so you can go back and look at it.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So at this point, I know that you had … excuse me. That you had set out to say, “Hey, this is something that I want to do, I want to pursue. I want this to be a job, a career.” In the timeline of things, where does that land right now for you? Are you 50% of the way there, where you’re like, “Hey, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Or are you working on this full-time and it is what your job is? I’d be interested to hear that. Knowing that, you’ve been doing it for a long time, four years feels like a long time.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: But a lot of the people we interview on the podcast have maybe been doing it for like seven, eight years.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’re kind of right in the middle there. Where are you at with it, and what is your goal as you continue to work on it?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so I went full-time in 2017. So I’ve been doing it full-time for two years, which is crazy, because I feel like it was just yesterday that I quit my job. And even two years, I still don’t feel like I have the hang of it. I understand okay, these are the things that I need to do. But it just gets a little nuts. So I think the thing that I’ve learned is that I can’t do everything myself, and that it’s really important to, when you are able to, when you feel like you have even just a little bit of money to set aside to pay for someone to help you, to go for it because you get so much … even if it’s two hours a week, that’s two hours a week that you could spend doing something that you’re really passionate about.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So in the beginning, I did my own Pinterest, and my own Facebook scheduling and all of that. And then I quickly found out that that is so much work, even with … it’s funny, you would think that because once you go full-time you’ll have all the time in the world, and you’ll have all the … you know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: To do all these things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And somehow you don’t, you just have more things to do.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally. Totally.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: The list of things you have to do just grows and grows and grows for some reason. So I hired someone to schedule out my Pinterest, and schedule out my Facebook. And that was also a learning process too because I didn’t know who to hire.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I just went on some Facebook groups and found like virtual assistants that people were recommending, and I’ve gone through a few virtual assistants, and at this point right now I’m actually writing a job description to hire someone to help me with social media, like marketing in general. And I want it to be someone local, because I feel like-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: After trying all of the virtual assistants and people elsewhere, not local to me, it’s really hard for me to connect with them and feel like oh, this is a team.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I think the next step for me is to have someone who I feel like could grow with me into a bigger team, as opposed to just a virtual assistant that I pay-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Hourly.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. They say that … so if you view what we are doing as a startup as opposed to a blog, I think sometimes a blog … calling something a blog discredits it, which is a little bit of a bummer for a business named Food Blogger Pro. But it’s like-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: These are businesses, and these are startups. And they talk about startups as one of the … one of the most important things you can do is your first hire. And because your first hire is going to be probably not a really specific job that only does one thing, but like you said, it grows with you, and evolves.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And for the team that we have, I know that that’s been true. If you were to ask anybody on our team, the things that we are working on, it changes, it evolves on a month to month and definitely a year to year basis. Where a lot of people, the thing that they were hired for they’re not even doing anymore, and it’s only two years later, because that has evolved and the needs change.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So what have you learned that you would … what is the advice that you would give as it relates to kind of that first hire, or the first person on the team? Knowing that you’ve been through it a few times, you’ve seen the benefit of it, but also have had to jump some hurdles along the way where it sounds like it wasn’t the ideal fit. What have you learned and what advice would you give to people?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. So I think your first hire, I think you’ll learn whether … part of it was learning my style, as well. Like my style of managing.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I don’t think I did well managing someone from afar, which is why right now I’m focused on finding someone local, just because it gives me a little bit … I’m going to be accountable for this, I want to have like weekly or biweekly meetings or something like that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I think just trying to figure out what type of manager you’re going to be, because this is your business so you have to tell people how you want it done. And that can be really hard too, especially when it’s been you for so long, and whenever someone comes in, you’re just ready to throw it at them because you need time back. It’s like, “Here, do it however you want to do it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: But-

Bjork Ostrom: But how I want to do it, technically.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, yeah. For sure-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So that’s hard.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s the hard part with … yeah. And also it’s a new skill.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: You have over the past four years gone through this process of developing some really unique skills, like you have beautiful photography, you’ve learned recipe development, I’m sure that you’ve learned how to communicate recipes in a way that four years ago you wouldn’t have had. And now it’s like okay, it’s kind of … for most of us, for most people that listen to this podcast, it’s kind of … if you go through the process of building a team, you are then kind of starting over, you’re creating this new skill. And then it goes from me working on a thing to a team. And it goes from-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: My thing to our thing. And that process changes the work that you do as well. So do you have any thoughts on that as you contemplate the switch from strictly maker to also being manager, and it’s another startup conversation, where a lot of times in a startup, early stages, you are the maker, and then you make this transition into manager. And I know that for Lindsay, we’ve had this conversation, and as much as possible she wants to stay in the maker role. She loves writing, she loves recipe development, she loves photography. And doesn’t have this desire to transition into or away from that. So for you, what does that look like? How do you balance that? And I know it’s still early stages, but I think it’s an important consideration.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so I’m kind of in the same boat as Lindsay. I want to … my favorite things are photographing and creating the recipe. I’m actually not … I’m not in love with writing, just because I don’t personally think I’m a great writer and it just doesn’t come easily.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I’m still kind of figuring that out, but for the moment, I think it makes sense for me to write just because I do have that knowledge in me already.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I know about Mexican food. So for right now, I’m focusing on … I’m really wanting to just do the cooking and the photography and the writing-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And then give everything else to other people, just because-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: When your mind is in so many different-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Areas of your business, it’s just hard to get anything done.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes, totally. And I think there’s something to be said about figuring out the things that you love, and that are also important for you to do.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And an example would be for this podcast, people would notice if it wasn’t me doing the podcast, and it’s not strictly me. Alexa has a huge role in the podcast, and she has a voice on this podcast as well. But as it stands right now, we don’t have really a crew of people who do it, it’s kind of me. And for you and your blog, it’s your recipes, at this point it’s your voice, it’s your photography that has a unique look and feel to it. It’d be really hard for somebody else to come in and replicate your exact same style, both for recipes and photography. Those are really important.

Bjork Ostrom: But, people don’t know if it’s you posting to Facebook, or to Pinterest.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: And those are still really important things. But around any business, especially any business that has that personal aspect to it, there are probably 100 different things that all of us are doing that nobody would know the difference it wasn’t us actually doing those things. So I think it’s … as you ponder what that looks like, it makes so much sense for you to say, “Hey, these are the things I want to do, I want to continue to do, I want to focus on, that I like doing and that are important for me to do,” and then what are the other things around that that I can bring somebody in to help with.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, and I just want to say once I started really thinking about hiring someone locally to possibly grow with me at some point full-time, I made a list, a spreadsheet of every single thing I do in my business. So that’s like photography, recipe development, post writing, SEO research. I also create my own videos, and then Instagram, all the things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I made a list of them, and then I made three columns. And I titled them keep, delegate, or delete. And I was like okay, what are the things that I really love doing, that I can continue doing, at least for the moment, at least for a year, what can I do for a year and I won’t regret it? Put that in the keep column. The delegate, things that I need to keep doing that are important for the business, put that in the delegate column, and things that are just … they’re busywork, they don’t really need to be done-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: They aren’t making a difference. Put that in the delete column. And that was really helpful. And that made me realize, okay, a lot of the things in the delegate column are Pinterest, Facebook, email marketing-

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: All those things. So-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That are important, but aren’t necessarily things that you need to do.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: And what was an example of something that was in the delete column?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: So I actually have nothing in the … I’m looking at it right now, I have nothing in the delete column, and I was actually going to get rid of that column and then a friend of mine said, “Hey, why don’t you keep that column because you can come back to this spreadsheet like say in six months.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And if there’s something that you realize that you’re doing that doesn’t need to get done, or if you ever add anything else onto your plate and you realize hey, I don’t need to be doing that-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: It’s not making a difference, move that to the delete column. So-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great, yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s really helpful to do kind of an audit of your day. There was a book that I read a while back, and it was out of a college class that was really popular, I don’t remember, I think it was maybe at Stanford. But the book is called Designing Your Life, and one of the exercises they had was essentially a version of what you’re saying, which is do an audit of your day, throughout your day what are the things that you are doing? And another thing that they had added to that, which would be a potentially interesting column to add, is for the keep area, keep stuff, like on a scale of one to 10, how much do you enjoy doing that? And so they had this little like-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Fuel meter that was essentially this fills me up, or this drains my tank.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: My guess is if you put it in the keep column, a lot of that is stuff that you actually enjoy. But it was another interesting kind of assessment as you audit your day, that I think is helpful to reflect on.

Bjork Ostrom: So I think even that little takeaway, for anybody listening, to create … and it doesn’t have to be complicated, you could pull it up in Google Drive, and create a sheet. And like you said, you outline, you put essentially a simple task, what it is that you’re doing, and you say keep, delegate, or delete. And my guess is, for anybody that does that, you will have things that come out of that exercise, and I’m guessing this is true for you, Isabel, where you have things that come out of that exercise that have an impact on your quality of life, and your quality of work, where you have the freedom to say, “These are things I’m not going to do anymore, I’m going to delegate these things. And now I know clearly, these are the things that I’m going to keep.”

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Did you notice after doing it your work shifting, in terms of what it looked like to your daily work routine, and what it looked like for you to actually work on things?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yes. Actually, so because I’m in the process of really trying to hire someone soon, if all these things were … all these things were in my keep column before, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Until I moved them to the delegate. I maybe two, three weeks ago, before I made this spreadsheet, because it’s literally only three weeks ago that I made this, before I made the spreadsheet, all the things that I currently have in my delegate column were just kind of falling by the wayside. Like I didn’t even want … I didn’t do them, or if I did I’d forget to do them, or things like that. But now that it’s in my delegate column, and I know at some point I’m going to hire that out, it kind of has motivated me to get it done.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Because I know I’m going to hand it off anyway. I only have to stick with it a few more months, you know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. It almost switches the task a little bit from doing the thing, to the task then becoming figuring out somebody who will help do the thing.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Whereas before, it’s hanging over your head. You’re like, ugh, I’ve got to do this.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And now it’s like okay, this is something that has to get done, but the bigger to-do is finding somebody to help me within the business to work on this.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: And now that it’s in my delegate column and I am … when I get it done now, I’m really focusing on okay, what am I doing? What is this person going to need to know? What sort of knowledge transfer do I have to hand over to them? Because say I’m teaching someone about email marketing, if they don’t know anything about it, I’m going to have to teach them, so-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: I find myself focusing on the process more now.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. And I think one little takeaway there is a great tip would be what you just said, focusing on the process. What is the thing that actually has to happen from start to finish in order for this to be accomplished? And there’s lots of ways that you can document that. For me, I love recording these screen casts, and anybody on our team will probably kind of laugh and roll their eyes a little bit, because of how much screen cast recording I do to communicate ideas, but especially for a remote team-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a great way to communicate ideas, and we use a video recording software called Loom, L-O-O-M, that’s been super helpful to just record a quick screen cast and share that. So I think what you said is so important about the process, whether that’s writing it down, taking screenshots, recording a screen cast, all of those things are great ways to document that process. So then you can, when you have this person who comes on, communicate really effectively what that is and how they can go about doing it.

Bjork Ostrom: So Isabel, we’re coming to the end of the podcast, one of the things that we love to do, one of the things we love to end with is this question of advice that you would give for anybody listening, and specifically I would like to ask that question around you making this transition into working on your blog full-time, in a relatively short amount of time, you started in 2015, you made that transition in 2017 and you’ve been doing that for a couple of years successfully now. What would your advice be to somebody else who wants to in some way replicate what you have done, not in specifics, but in this general sense of working on the thing that you love, creating a site, building a following, what would your advice be?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Honestly, I feel like the one thing that really helped my blog grow is, aside from niching down, is focusing on one thing at a time and getting better at that one thing. So in the beginning, I really focused on photography, and I spent hours and hours learning all about lighting and all of that. I was into Food Blogger Pro, so I learned a lot through those videos.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, great.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah. So at one point I focused solely on photography. Right now, I’m really focused on SEO. And maybe next year I’ll be focusing on something else, but if you can focus on one thing at a time, practice, and get really good at that thing, or just have a solid understanding before moving on to the next thing, I feel like you will just learn so much more than you would if you were trying to learn everything all at once.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s awesome. There’s this concept that I … I don’t remember who it is that talked about this, but this idea that if you read … essentially it was like read a book a month, or … I don’t know, I don’t think it was a week, but it was like a book a month. And if you do that for two to three years, in a specific topic, like SEO, or photography, that within two to three years, you will be top 5% of whatever it is in that certain category. Now, obviously there’s a lot of disclaimers that come along with it, it’s not like you’re going to be a medical doctor or something like that, but idea being you can get a lot of knowledge with really intentional pursuit of a narrow focus. And for you, you gave the example of photography, SEO is another example, you can gather most of the information you need if you are really focused for a short amount of time. So I think that’s a great tip. And hard to do, because-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s so easy to get distracted and kind of have that shiny object syndrome, or as … I was at a conference and somebody accidentally called it … they called it shiny squirrel, which was such a-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Funny entrepreneurial misspeak, which is the exact reason why we need to focus on one thing and not the shiny object, because then we eventually call it the shiny squirrel. Like this idea that it’s just so distracting.

Bjork Ostrom: But I think that’s a great takeaway, and a really important thing for people to consider, is to go deep on one thing, to really get good at that, and to not get distracted along the way. And it’s obvious that you’ve done that. When you look at your blog, Isabel, your photography’s awesome, it’s obvious that you’ve been really intentional to craft a brand, and a focus, and that shines through in how it looks, and it also shines through in sites like Savour nominating you-

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: To win an award. So if people want to follow along with what you’re up to, what you’re doing, where can they find you and how can they follow along?

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Yeah, so my blog is IsabelEats.com, and then I’m everywhere on Isabel Eats. I’m mainly on … I do a lot of Instagram stories, so you can see my face there.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Isabel, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.

Isabel Orozco-Moore: Oh, thank you so much, Bjork.

Alexa Peduzzi: And that’s the episode, we hope you loved getting to know Isabel during this interview, and that you enjoyed learning how she runs her business. A big focus for today’s episode was finding a niche, and if you’re interested in digging a bit deeper into that topic, you should check out our podcast episode with Megan Hill at FoodBloggerPro.com/93. It’s actually one of our most popular episodes, and we still hear from listeners when they find that episode. It’s just such a solid interview packed with useful information.

Alexa Peduzzi: As a reminder, we’d love for you to be a subscriber to the podcast. You can do that by searching for the show, the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, on your favorite podcasting app, and then clicking the subscribe button. This ensures that you never miss an episode, because each new episode, which we release every single Tuesday, will automatically get downloaded onto your device. Excited to see you back here next week. Thanks for tuning in, and until next time, make it a great week.

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