This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 328 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Liz Della Croce from The Lemon Bowl about how she plans and runs food blogger retreats.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Casey Markee, our FBP SEO Expert, about understanding the Google algorithm. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
When it comes to earning money as food creators, we usually think of the classic revenue streams like ads and sponsored content. But what about hosting events? That’s what we’re focusing on today!
In this episode, Bjork chats with Liz about how she runs events and food blogger retreats in addition to her own food blog. You’ll hear how she plans her events based on the desires of her attendees, how she gets brands involved with retreats, how she plans out her attendee lists, and more.
It’s a fantastic interview that will inspire you to think about how you can diversify your income streams and capitalize on your own strengths to grow your business. Enjoy!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What Liz shares on the Passion to Profit Podcast
- Some powerful mindset shifts that help her run her business
- What her team looks like
- How EOS works
- What implementers, integrators, and visionaries are
- How she diversifies her income
- How she gets the most out of her brand partnerships
- What kinds of events she holds
- Why she loves hosting food blogger retreats
- How she curates her retreats based on the wishes of her attendees
- How to get brands involved with retreats
- What tools she uses when planning her retreats
- How she determines the attendee list for her retreats
- Passion to Profit Podcast
- The Lemon Bowl
- Get on the waitlist for the Passion to Profit Mastermind!
- 276: Featured Podcast – Scaling Your Business & Providing Massive Value with Bjork on the Irie Lemon Podcast
- The Five Minute Journal
- Rocket Fuel
- Kolbe A Index
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
- Microsoft Teams
- Handle the Heat
- The Food in my Beard
- Fresh Air Retreat Video 2021
- Follow Liz on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok
- Check out the Food Blogger Pro YouTube channel (and subscribe while you’re there!)
About This Week’s Sponsor
We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!
With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.
Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:
- Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
- Optimization ideas for your site content
- An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
- And more!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti. And you’ve heard me talk about Clariti quite a bit now on the podcast. It’s been really fun for us to see Food Blogger Pro podcast listeners sign up and use Clariti. There was somebody who, in the Slack group, just the other day, mentioned that they’re started digging in today and they’re loving it, which is so fun for us to hear, to hear that positive feedback, and also to hear ideas around how we could improve features. It’s one of the great things about product development.
Bjork Ostrom: You know you’re onto something when people are using it and they say, hey, it would be awesome if … It would be awesome if you could do this. It would be awesome if you could do that. It’s been really fun to get some of that feedback, both ideas for future development, and also people who have been using it and found ways to improve and enhance their site.
Bjork Ostrom: What I’m going to do today is actually talk to you about one of the ways that we’re using it for Pinch of Yum. We’re doing a project right now. There’s two areas that you’ll see when you log into Clariti, explore, which is kind of filtering. It’s looking at your content. It’s understanding different areas, slice and dice, but it’s not necessarily you’re taking action on it. You’re exploring. Then there’s an area called projects. This is, after you’ve explored, if you identify different things that you want to do, you create projects.
Bjork Ostrom: You can either use explore to bubble up issues like broken links, missing alt text. Maybe there’s, you don’t have links in posts that you want to add them. Maybe you’re trying to build posts that are a little bit longer and have more content, so you’re searching by word count. Whatever it might be, you do all of that in explore. Projects where you actually take action. One of the projects that we have going on right now for Pinch of Yum, you can have many different projects. The active projects, we have five different active projects for Pinch of Yum right now. One of them is a full revamp for 50 different posts.
Bjork Ostrom: And a project contains pages and posts. And each of those pages or posts will have to tasks, things that you want to do and things that you want to improve, that you can track and move forward with. I’m looking at one of the pieces of content in the full revamp project for Pinch of Yum, which is right now, 51% completed. We’re moving through this. We’re making progress little by little, and I’m looking at a homemade cream of chicken soup post on Pinch of Yum. I’m just going to read you the tasks. I thought you might be interested in hearing some of the things that we’re doing.
Bjork Ostrom: One is moving the first paragraph above the first image. So, we’re trying to ensure that people see text right away as opposed to just images, so we’re moving that up. The next is moving the other recommendations below the card or other recipes below the recipe card. So, the recipe card moves up a little bit. We don’t want that to be down too far. We’re strategically adding H2 header. As you know, there’s an H1 header. Every post should just have one H1 header, should be the name of the recipe. But H2 headers help to divide up your content if it makes sense to have them.
Bjork Ostrom: Sometimes it might not, but it’s a really nice way to build in the ability to skim through content, and organizationally, not only does it help people read, but it helps break your content up and is kind of a search best practice. We’re also changing the name of the FAQ section to be a little bit more descriptive. The FAQ section is something we’ve talked about before, but if you have Yoast SEO, you can add in an FAQ section, which marks up the structured … Puts structured data around those questions and answers in a way where Google understands those to actually be questions and answers. So, it’s a great little tip or trick for you to create an FAQ section using Yoast.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re just changing that name to be a little bit more descriptive. We’re also moving that up. This is another task. Right now, it’s way down at the bottom. We’re moving that up a little bit. Another task is we’re converting the videos to be AdThrive players. We’ve seen a massive increase in the earning potential of a video when we move away from YouTube and to an ad network video player. So, AdThrive, Mediavine, they have video players that you can embed in your post and will run pre-roll ads that are going to be higher income earning potential. You’ve heard me talk about that on the podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Converting the video to an AdThrive video, that’s one of the tasks here in this revamp project. Ensure each image has alt text. That’s one of the things that we’re wanting to do, wanting to make sure that all of those images have a really descriptive alt text and you can search about learning what the best use of alt text, how you can optimize for that. We’ve talked about it before, but it’s search best practice. Verify that there’s a pin for Pinterest, a pin image, ensuring that, for the images, that they’re not broken. That’s just a quick check.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll be able to see, are any of those broken, any of the links broken? All of these are just kind of best practices, but it’s things that are easy to forget about. If we’re not in front of it, if we’re not looking at it, if we don’t have a system for it, these things can kind of go unnoticed. It’s almost like if you have a room in your house and you never open the door, you’re not going to see if it’s clean or not. Clarity, for us, one of the ways that you can use it is, it’s kind of like opening that door. It’s kind of looking to see, hey, what are the areas of opportunity that I maybe have missed, and what are the things I know I want to do and be proactive with, but want to have a way to organize that?
Bjork Ostrom: If you’re interested in checking out clarity, you can go to clariti.com/food. That’s C-A-R-I-T-I.com/F-O-O-D. We’re doing right now, what we are calling a 25 forever sign up. We’ve had, when I’m recording these ads, it’s the middle of September, and we’ve had 142 folks all time sign up for Clariti. So, we have some early and excited users. Little by little that will build up. There’s not like this … It’s not like tomorrow that’s going to fill up, but eventually, we’ll hit that 500 mark. When that happens, we’ll analyze what our pricing strategy is.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s kind of the mark that we consider to be, not only a checkpoint for us to say, hey, is this a sustainable business, but also a checkpoint to say, let’s take another look at pricing, change how we do that. But just to get started to get out the gate, we wanted to do this 25 forever plan. Again, that’s clariti.com/food if you want to check that out, thanks to Clariti for sponsoring the podcast. And we will now jump into the episode.
Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello, hello. You’re listening to the Food Blog Pro podcast. Today, we’re having a conversation with Liz Della Croce, and she is from The Lemon Bowl. She’s going to be talking about her journey in building her site, building her business, building her blog over the past 10 plus years. She’s one of those bloggers, like Pinch of Yum who has been doing this for a really long time and she’s learned a lot of things along the way. She’s going to be sharing what that looks like now for her, what she’s focusing on, the different income streams that she has from her site, and how she’s really strategic about focusing on the opportunities that most align with who she is and how she operates being an extroverted person.
Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like to build a blog, build a following online, but also to do that as somebody who’s extroverted and be strategic about how you do that, and to put yourself in opportunities that, not only align with who you are, but also create value for brands or sponsors or the audience that you’re serving? I think it’s a great interview because it offers a perspective that not a lot of people think about. Usually we think about, hey, how do you get a bunch of traffic and monetize that via ads? While that’s good, we need to think about what are the other areas that we might be skilled in and what are the experiences that we’re bringing to the table?
Bjork Ostrom: And Liz is going to be talking about some of the ways that she views that and looks at that. It’s a great interview, excited to share this interview with Liz, so let’s go ahead and jump in. Liz, welcome to the podcast.
Liz Della Croce: How are you?
Bjork Ostrom: Good. We’ve done this podcasting before. We’ve had podcast conversations, kind of the flip side of this, where I’ve been on your podcast. Can you talk about that a little bit? And we were trying to say, was that a month ago? Was that a year ago? Was that 10 years ago?
Liz Della Croce: Literally a year ago.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Your daughter had not been born yet, so it was a year ago. We were on the Passion to Profit podcast with myself and Vince. It was really fun interviewing you all about how you set up your businesses, how you manage your team, how you created the structure of your team. I thought that was so interesting. I always think about what you said of how it’s dirt to some people, chocolate pudding to others.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: I think of that all the time.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is maybe the only time that I’ve used that analogy. I don’t even remember what it was that I had been talking…
Liz Della Croce: Delegation and outsourcing. How we think like oh we can’t ask anyone else to do it. They’ll hate it because I hate it. That’s pudding to them.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The real food analogy would be like, it’s like the dirt chocolate pudding, but the Halloween…
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. The dirt cup.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. With the little like gummy worms coming out of it. Wait a minute, this isn’t dirt. This is a gummy worm, chocolate gummy worm cup. One of the questions that I have for you, you’ve been working for yourself, building your business and doing a really good job of that for a long time. I’m always curious to hear from people who have had … The success you had, have had, isn’t luck. It’s decisions you’ve made, it’s mindsets that you have, it’s a commitment to showing up every day and doing the work.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about your mindset and how you think about the work that you do, and how that allows you to continue to show up every and continue to create and do new things, and yet continue to do the old things that still work?
Liz Della Croce: Right. What a great question. All right. I think one big mental shift that’s important, and I’ll admit it, I don’t remember specifically making the shift, but in looking back, I know it’s a mindset I’ve always had. It relates to many of life, whether it’s growing a business, losing weight, and it’s about thinking of your day as get to versus have to.
Bjork Ostrom: Ah, yeah.
Liz Della Croce: It’s so basic, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, but it’s important.
Liz Della Croce: It’s so important. You’re told by a doctor that you can’t eat a thousand things, and the better reframe is, well, look at the hundreds of things you can eat. That’s going to be so much more exciting when you head to the kitchen every day…
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. I love that.
Liz Della Croce: Similar with business, I look at this, I always dreamed of, ironically, in second grade, I was a stay-at-home mom for career day. I was never super geeked about the daycare thing. I come from a long line of stay-at-home moms and it was a dream. I wanted to cook for a living, but I didn’t want to work nights and weekends and holidays in a hotel or a restaurant. I get to cook for a living from home with my kids and they never had to step foot in a daycare. I can’t believe I get to do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, that’s great. Yeah. Even the idea of like, I get to eat fresh, healthy carrots versus like, I can’t eat whatever it is that you feel like would be the thing that you’ve not been eating. I’ve been doing this stretch of no added sugar. It’s amazing to me when, as a forcing function to say like, I’m not going to eat food with added sugar, to see like, okay, what actually is out there? There’s like awesome stuff I’ve just never been enforced to figure out.
Bjork Ostrom: Now I know like, oh my gosh, there’s these … It’s sold out everywhere, but there’s these RX peanut butters, like nut butters that they have, which are so good.
Liz Della Croce: They’re so good. The egg whites, right?
Bjork Ostrom: So good. Or just RX brand in general as example. What’s that?
Liz Della Croce: Don’t they have egg whites in them to like emulsify?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think so. I don’t know what all the ingredients are. I probably should.
Liz Della Croce: They’re very good.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What does that look like for you during the periods of time within your business where it would maybe be easier to be like, I have to do this? Because I’m guessing there are some times where it’s difficult and you’ve had to then use that to say, you know what? No, actually, it’s almost like a form of gratitude, like, no, actually this is a good thing even though it feels hard, and did that help you get through those seasons?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Right. Okay. Two things. The first, I want to … One other thing to add to the first question is I believe that you find what you’re are looking for. If you, just like you in looking for sugar free or no added sugar items yeah, you focus on looking for the things you can’t eat that’s going to be a downer. That’s going to lead to a scarcity mindset. I’m big on scarcity versus abundance. You don’t want to have that negative … What you put out there is what you get back. If you’re like looking for the things you can’t have, that’s going to be a downer. As opposed to actively proactively looking for things that don’t have added sugar, it’s going to be so much more positive and exciting. You know what I mean?
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I think, a lot of times people talk about … I’m not in a season of doing this, but I was really good for a period of time to do a five minute journal. One of the things that you do is, within that is, like three things that went well today or something like that at the end of the day. But what’s interesting about that is, it’s less about that five minutes that I take to write it down. I think that’s a piece of it. But the other part that I found was, then throughout the day, I’m kind of like scanning and being like, what are the things that are going well?
Liz Della Croce: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: And to introduce that as just a way of operating, in your day-to-day, can have a profound impact. Whether that be within your business, your personal life, to your point, it could be anywhere really.
Liz Della Croce: Right. Absolutely. And it all goes back to your thoughts and your brain, whether it’s your marriage, your business, your bank account, your friendship. If your brain isn’t right, nothing will be right. I think we sometimes underestimate the power of our thoughts. Like you said, even what you’ve done is you’ve created a hack, that you’ve created a way, a habit of almost tricking yourself into thinking positive thoughts of like looking for those things.
Liz Della Croce: That’s really smart because that’s going to lead to you finding …. you get at what you look for, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great.
Liz Della Croce: To answer your other question about what do I do, how do I keep that up? What do I do if it’s not so fun or obvious or easy? Here’s what I have to say to that is that life isn’t supposed to only be fun, obvious or easy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Even you know this, life is half good half bad. There’s the good things and the bad things. Exercising, for example, is never fun. For me, at least, it’s still a nightmare every time.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.
Liz Della Croce: Part of being a human and having a brain is that we can delay temporary gratification for long-term. We, as humans, can go through that 30 minute workout knowing the long-term benefits. In blogging, there’s things that I do on a daily basis that aren’t my favorite part of the business. But the benefit is that, oh my God, I’m making passive income right now as I talk to you because of all that work I did.
Bjork Ostrom: What are some examples of those things that you do on a daily basis?
Liz Della Croce: Sure. I would say, and it’s evolved, so right now it’s a lot of like the HR hat stuff, human resources managing people. That’s always not always the most fun part. It’s not bringing in money right away. It’s not my favorite aspect. But I know that curating and cultivating and leading a strong team is going to help us in the long run, and it challenges me because I’m not always like perfect at it. Cooking, I feel really confident in. It’s not good to just do the stuff you’re really confident. You’re not going to grow as much.
Liz Della Croce: I know that this discomfort of learning how to step into like the CEO hat is going to pay off. That’s an example. But before I had a team, an easy example is the obvious stuff of like re-photographing old content or taking time to learn a new platform like TikTok. Whatever it might be …. I’m not loving TikTok and so I’m forcing myself to do it every day. I don’t love it, but I’m forcing myself to do it because I know the long-term benefits. Not even just about growing my business, but there’s a benefit to forcing yourself to be uncomfortable and consistent.
Liz Della Croce: I think consistency is something that people are missing a lot and think that like, oh, I just am not good at it or, oh, TikTok sucks. Well, have you been doing it consistently? Probably not.
Bjork Ostrom: You’ve been doing it for six days.
Liz Della Croce: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think about that and compare it against learning an instrument a lot where we … I think we’re easier on ourselves with things that we understand to be difficult in a way where there’s something weird about like technology blogging, social media, where it feels like, wait, this is really easy, like we recorded a video on…
Liz Della Croce: I think we did that, that it might be our fault. Did we do that?
Bjork Ostrom: What do you mean by that? Explain.
Liz Della Croce: The pretty photos, the trips. The, oh, look at me, I’m in the kitchen today. Maybe we didn’t, granted, I just think it’s not as obvious like exercise.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think, like exercise or like baton twirling or learning guitar or like any of these skills where if you were one week into … If I tried to pick up … There’s somebody in our hometown who was really good at baton twirling, and she went on to be like the baton twirler for the University of Minnesota. For a small town, it was like, everybody would talk about how you’d go to football games and she’d be there. Anybody who would go and like twirl a baton wouldn’t expect to be as good as she would be.
Bjork Ostrom: But I think sometimes when it comes to photography or blogging or posting on social and building a following, it feels like we should … That timeline should be compressed. I think there’s frustrations that exist within that, as opposed to the reality of it taking as long as it would to get really good at guitar, which is probably like, at least three years, if you’re really dedicated and doing a good job of practicing every day.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: But it takes time.
Liz Della Croce: It’s like comparing going to a concert with being a good guitar player. Going on Instagram is super easy and so we think it’s easy, because inherently it’s simple. Like you log on and scroll. It’s like going to a concert versus being on the stage. It’s very different.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. Anyway, it’s worth pointing out, I think. We’ve talked about that before in the podcast, but I feel like it’s something that’s good to come back to. One of the questions that I have for you, in regards to the balance of leaning into the things that you’re not good at and in service of eventually becoming good at them, knowing that they’re needed within your business versus saying, you know what, I’m not great at this, I don’t want to be good at this, so I’m going to find somebody who is good at this. How do you balance that?
Liz Della Croce: Oh, that’s a good one. All right. Yeah, I think, like you said, it is a balance, and I also think it’s something that’s a luxury that happens over time as you get more means. In the beginning, you’re going to be doing a lot more of this stuff that you don’t want to be doing when you don’t have that much disposable income. Whereas now, I honestly spend most of my day seeing what I can offload, and, you know, that wasn’t always the case. But for example, photography was the first thing I outsourced really early on.
Liz Della Croce: It’s because I didn’t wanna buy a DSLR camera, I never owned one. I had no interest in it. It didn’t excite me. The other caveat is that there’s so many people that are better photographers than me. I think if you’re going to outsource, you really want to find someone that’s better at it than you, which sounds obvious, but a lot of times we’re the best person for certain things. So, we will outsource it to get rid of it, but they’re not actually better at it than you are. Photography’s a good example where … And graphic design is another one. I always joke, my graphic looks like an eighth grade PowerPoint.
Liz Della Croce: Graphic design’s another good one that I love to outsource. Then there’s other things that I know, in reality, I’m the best person for it and I haven’t gotten rid of it. For me, that selling and building relationships and pitching and prospecting.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. Can you talk about the kind of landscape of your business right now, including your team and what you view as the primary areas of what you do? We can use that to transition into talking about retreats as well, which we’re excited to talk to you about.
Liz Della Croce: Yes. This is my favorite question that you ask your guests, so I’m excited to answer it, because so much of how my team is shaped is of your podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Liz Della Croce: And hearing how other bloggers have set up their teams.
Bjork Ostrom: I love that.
Liz Della Croce: Right now, it’s myself and my husband, Rich, who’s not officially an employee. He still has a full-time job at a corporate Fortune 500, but he very much plays a role. So, he does everything technical, web, taxes, accounting, email, Microsoft Office Teams, all of that stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Kind of like back office almost.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Then there’s me, and my main role is sales and marketing. Then I have an operations manager, Jessica, she’s amazing. She is basically the integrator between myself, the visionary, and then the rest of our team, which does more of the tactical work. She kind of brings together the tactical with the vision.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And that’s kind of like EOS language.
Liz Della Croce: It is.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Is that like a formal use of EOS or?
Liz Della Croce: I am obsessed.
Bjork Ostrom: Are you?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.
Liz Della Croce: Here’s what happened. Vince and I lead the Passion to Profit Mastermind and we have a couple different groups. What’s fun about our mastermind is we bring in special guests, and one month we had an EOS implementer come on. She sent us the book.
Bjork Ostrom: For those who aren’t familiar, can you explain what an implementer does?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. EOS stands for entrepreneur operating system, I believe.
Bjork Ostrom: Entrepreneur, entrepreneurial, one or the other.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Something like that. It’s like how to be a real company. It’s basically how to pretend you’re a real business. Because when you work at a big corporation, it’s like that’s apparent, but it’s basic is like starting by making your corporate structure. One of the biggest things that many of your listeners might not think about, which is even aha to me is just because you own the business doesn’t mean you need to be the CEO.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: A lot of times we don’t have clearly defined roles as we grow our team. Anyways, the integrator can come in and help you implement the EOS, including how to organize and how to structure and how to implement everything. That’s kind of how that works. The biggest piece I realized I was missing was the integrator, which connects the visionary, which most of your listeners are probably the visionaries if they have a food blog or are business owners. Because any entrepreneur is a visionary typically.
Liz Della Croce: What happened is we’ll hire people and expect them to be visionaries like us or think the way we think, which is really silly because we’re asking them to do tactical work. Anyways, it just kind of helps you understand the best way to hire. One of the whole chapters is the people chapter, which kind of is…
Bjork Ostrom: Is this within the book, Traction?
Liz Della Croce: Yep. And Rocket Fuel is the other one. Basically, as I created my team, which I’ll get back to, it’s all about making sure you have the right person on the right seat of the bus. That means they get it, they want it, and they have the capacity to do it.
Bjork Ostrom: GWC.
Liz Della Croce: Again, we can link to these books because this is all jargon.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: I’m breaking the Kool-Aid, Bjork. It did change though, how I hire. As you can imagine, it’s easier to learn how to hire effectively than to hire incorrectly and go backwards. It’s a lot harder. Jess was one of my most recent amazing hires. It was actually last year, but in the recent few years, and she now is the person between me and all the other contractor. I don’t have any full-time employees. Everyone is a part-time contractor. We kind of have the belief of having more positions that are niche as opposed to like…
Bjork Ostrom: Specialized.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah, specialized.
Bjork Ostrom: Somebody’s really good at email, really good at photography, really good at video. Yep.
Liz Della Croce: I used to have one VA and expecting them to be good at everything. Well, that was silly.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Now we have a copywriter, and the copywriter writes the blog post, optimizes them for SEO. Obviously I write the recipes, I develop all the recipes. I do all the cooking and styling of the food. I have a photographer in person who comes in with me and we shoot the recipes twice a month, and that gets all of our content done for the month.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Twice a month for one month of content.
Liz Della Croce: Correct. So, we shoot…
Bjork Ostrom: And how many recipes is that usually?
Liz Della Croce: Six.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Liz Della Croce: Six recipes per shoot. It’s a six hour shoot. So, one recipe an hour. Then we do 12 new recipes a month on the website. That allows us in two days … Basically, every other week, we’re we’re shooting six recipes.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, cool.
Liz Della Croce: Then a videographer. We also have a Pinterest and graphic design person. I have a virtual assistant as well. Nobody is from like an agency or anything like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. It’s all individuals.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense. I want to recap that to make sure that I was tracking. The short version, synopsis of that, you interviewed, on your podcast, somebody who is an implementer. An implementer or an integrator are super confusing if you’re not familiar to EOS, but an implementer is somebody who’s essentially like a coach for EOS. So, if you want to have somebody help you do it, you hire an implementer. We have an implementer, his name is Troy. He essentially tells us what to do for EOS. That’s what an implementer does. My understanding is you interviewed somebody and you were like, oh my gosh, I want to do this. Did you self-implement or did you use an implementer?
Liz Della Croce: I self-implemented and I read the books as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So, Traction, Rocket Fuel would be EOS books. In that, one of the most important relationships is the visionary to integrator relationship, which translated to more familiar would kind of be like CEO to COO. It’s not a direct correlation, but essentially…
Liz Della Croce: Very…
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You have somebody who’s… The integrator is very much so like task oriented and is able to get stuff done. Great at project management. Great at working with team members to help get things done. Visionary, to your point, is somebody who’s like, here’s what we want things to look like in two years and here’s this new project we can be potentially start, but they’re maybe not the best person on like the super detail project management type stuff, so that’s why the relationship is really good there to have an integrator and a visionary. Then the integrator, I’m curious if this is true for you, usually is the touch point for all of the people underneath.
Bjork Ostrom: Is your primary communication, my guess would be with your personal VA, and the integrator on your team, remind me her name?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Jessica. Absolutely…
Bjork Ostrom: Jessica. Then Jessica does the primary communication with the contractors that you work with and the specialized positions?
Liz Della Croce: Right, correct. Basically deliverables are turned into her and then she will review them before I see them. If it’s something that also either I need to hand off to a client or I need to approve of, or just, I don’t even see it if it’s a recurring thing that doesn’t necessarily need me to look over, but it goes to her first, as opposed to emailing it to a bunch of people, then no one knows who’s in charge of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That’s one of the other pieces that’s so important with EOS is, if everybody’s accountable to it, nobody is.
Liz Della Croce: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Just like here’s who the one person is who’s accountable to this thing, naming that, and then … It doesn’t mean other people can’t be involved, but they’re the kind of main touch point for that. In terms of your business you mentioned, sales and marketing, so as one of the things that you do, I’m curious to know, with the lay of the land, in terms of your business, do you think of it primarily as your blog, do you think of it as social? You have the podcast, you also have events that you do. What does that look like in terms of your focus, and even percentage basis from a revenue perspective, what are the most important areas of your business?
Liz Della Croce: Sure. I would say the answer varies based on the client. All of those things I do offer, and I think every client has different needs. Really what I focus most on is building strong relationships so that I can fairly understand the needs of my clients and then figure out what offerings I can present that will give them the most value for their investment and go from there. Now, in terms of what it ends up or what it has been then recently, obviously events went way down during the pandemic.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. By the way, I am like a broken record of a diversified income stream. I’m sure you have many podcasts about that, but I talk about the pie, make sure you have many different pieces of pie, and the pie slice size will change throughout the year, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right.
Liz Della Croce: Ad revenue pieces is about to get really big in Q4. Make sure you have different things, and that’s what I’ve done, is create a very diversified mix of revenue. For example, when the pandemic happened and my events went away, luckily, I had all these other things that I could offer. Now events are coming back, which I’m excited about. I’m a total extrovert social person, so I get a lot of-
Bjork Ostrom: Perfect for events.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. I just get so much energy being around people in person, and being alone depletes my energy, which isn’t great for staying motivated and running a business. I have to find ways to fill my cup, travel’s another example, things like that. But in terms of the mix, I would say it’s still, obviously the biggest is sponsored content, the old bread and butter. That’s because obviously the biggest value I can provide any client is evergreen content on my website and that gets promoted indefinitely on all of our platforms, especially the ones that are growing right now. That’s always number one. But then there’s other things-
Bjork Ostrom: What’s your most important platform for sponsor content?
Liz Della Croce: Right now it’s Pinterest. It’s so exploding and big that it’s … For me, it’s Pinterest as opposed to like way larger than my Instagram, for example. My clients will get a lot more value from Pinterest than from my Instagram personally.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Can you talk about how you do that because I think most people would be like, oh Instagram. That’s always where people would think, or at least for Pinch of Yum, that being a primary platform that we think about. But I don’t think we think about Pinterest as a-
Liz Della Croce: But is your Pinterest not way larger than your Instagram, even as large as your Instagram is?
Bjork Ostrom: Here’s the thing …
Liz Della Croce: You don’t know it either.
Bjork Ostrom: I don’t know. I would know for Instagram, and the reason that’s an issue is because I’ve been thinking about … I just wrote a rough draft blog post, which I don’t do often, but for the Food Blogger Pro podcast, on like juicing the orange, or for Food Blogger Pro blog. I’ve used that analogy a couple times with like content, but I’ve also starting to think like, oh … In the blog post, I gave the example that we switched YouTube embeds to like AdThrive video players, and we waited until we could actually do a embedable video player that was for the video on the blog post, and that would also be collapsible. So, it’s like a really specific niche thing.
Bjork Ostrom: But we waited to do that, but the impact it had was super substantial, where it went from maybe a thousand dollars in ad revenue for YouTube ads to like 10,000 to 20,000 with pre-roll ads from like an AdThrive video player. I feel like you talking about Pinterest, for me as a realization of like, this is another platform that we essentially don’t touch that has that same kind of like … It’s like a mine that you haven’t mined, or like a tree that you haven’t grown. Maybe that’s a better example and ecological positive impact. I’d be curious to know about how brands think about Pinterest and how you facilitate those conversations, even just at a high level.
Liz Della Croce: You know I’m going to be asking you about that video player because now you got me curious. Okay. I think, and this is also, don’t be afraid to educate your clients on what will perform best with your business, because every blogger has a different business model. I think that there’s different ways that you can provide value. If a brand is working with 10 bloggers, they shouldn’t do the same campaign with all 10 bloggers because they all have different business businesses.
Bjork Ostrom: Strong Pinterest, strong blog versus strong YouTube, yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Correct. Photography…
Bjork Ostrom: You have to tell them, here’s how we think you will get your best yeah, Which we … We’ve had to do that in certain situations where we’re like, it’s a great idea in general, but it’s not a great idea if you’re working with us to do that.
Liz Della Croce: Exactly. And they’re usually really receptive and grateful. Because I don’t really want to ever take easy money if it’s not going to like produce the good results. That’s not fun for me or beneficial in the long run. Anyways, a lot of it’s just me educating the client. I’m not afraid to show them specific stats of past campaigns with other brands or other Pins. I’m a big fan of specific metrics. Give them specific examples beyond just your media kit linked to … Because the thing of it is, is like things are changing so rapidly with everything.
Liz Della Croce: So, send them specific things to, whether it’s a reel, a TikTok, a Google web story, a pin, whatever it is, I like to send specific examples that will show them, hey look, we could do that, but I just want you to know you might be missing out over here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Show them the areas of opportunity that they might not be aware of. To your point, one of the things that’s different with a platform like Pinterest, similar to a blog post, it’s just long tail. It has the potential, not always, but it has a potential to exist for a longer period of time and be impactful for a longer period of time.
Liz Della Croce: Right. I’ve only been long-term because I have many, and I know, I’m sure I know you do as well, I have so many sponsored pieces of content that go viral years later. I think that, had they not chosen that evergreen form, that wouldn’t have happened.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you follow up with those brands in situations like that?
Liz Della Croce: I did.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you use-
Liz Della Croce: Well, we know how. InfluenceKit…
Bjork Ostrom: I was going to ask, yeah. Bruno, our friend Bruno, an InfluenceKit, does a great job of managing those stats and information.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah, because the thing that’s with InfluenceKit is it sends you recaps. I don’t know if it’s weekly or monthly. That’s how, again, we don’t know how long time is anymore, but you get these emails that give you a recap, and I’ll see all these old campaigns that I’ve of course forgotten about, and I’ll be like, oh wait, that number shot way up. You can always kind of remember where it was at. I’ll circle back with a client and just let them know, hey look, dah, dah, dah, and then it’s an easy excuse to talk to your client.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The best way to open up a conversation is to be like, hey, this awesome thing is happening, and PS, we have something else coming up. Would you be interested in working together?
Liz Della Croce: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s awesome. One of the pieces of the pie, and we could talk about this stuff. We could go deep on this. Any of these different segments, you just have such a wealth of knowledge with all of this, but one of them is events, and obviously in the thick of COVID, not as possible, but now becoming more possible. When you think of doing events, I think right away people think conferences, but there’s actually different types of events that you can facilitate. And are those actually events that can be income producing or do you think of them as more like net zero?
Bjork Ostrom: So, you’re able to put this great experience together. I hear people talk about conferences as that, like, hey, conferences are great, but don’t expect to make a lot of money from doing that.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. I heard cookbooks are like that too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Totally. When you think of events, do you think of it as like a revenue source? If so, how do you do that and what are the other benefits that come with that?
Liz Della Croce: Okay. Just like a blog, you kind of start net zero and then you figure out how to monetize it and improve it, make it more valuable. I didn’t start off my website day one and be like, give me a bunch of money for this blog post. I had to find ways to create value. I’m not going to pretend I’m 100% percent like, I got to jump all in to know, because I am a bit of a fact-finder and that’s language of another personality thing I’ll share. But that’s the Kolbe assessment of how you make decisions. You jump, you quick start, I’m guessing you. There’s fact finders, etc, etc.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s Kolby, K-O-L-B-Y, right?
Liz Della Croce: B-E.
Bjork Ostrom: B-E-Y.
Liz Della Croce: K-O-L-B-E, I think. There’s no Y.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, I got it, got it, got it. Yeah, K-O-L-B-E. I’ve never taken it. I should.
Liz Della Croce: You should, it’s the best.
Bjork Ostrom: I know a lot of people who have, and similar to like Enneagram or … Like we’ll refer to themselves as their Kolbe score.
Liz Della Croce: Right. I hear people really … It’s like how I’ll talk about being an Enneagram two, people do really talk about in that way. Long story short, there is an element where I do need to do something to know how to tweak it and make it fast of course. Which is why, in the beginning, your rates are lower and then as you … They grow. With events, I actually started out … Well, there’s a different types of events I do. I do food blogger retreats, which I know we’ll be talking a bit more about, but I also just do events for my clients that have nothing to do with other food bloggers, that are essentially in-person events, parties, tastings, whatever it might be that basically brings the products to life in 3D, where you can actually take-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: For example, I have a party series called bits and bites, where I host a cocktail party and the menu of the evening is weave with my clients products. We’ve got consumers, local influencers, whatever it might be. There’s a DJ spinning. I love to get creative with how I showcase the products. For example, I did it once with Bob’s Red Mill, which often people think of at breakfast time, like oats and protein powder, but I did a whole evening cocktail party menu with it. So, like jalapeno quinoa cakes, and things like that.
Liz Della Croce: I love getting creative with how I showcase my client’s products, and I think in events are a really great way to bring it to life in a way that stands out in a very overly crowded and cluttered feed.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Can you explain what you mean by that? The perceived real benefit, perceived going into it, real benefit after, from the brand is still online, social?
Liz Della Croce: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: And that comes from a hashtag and either local, random people or creators and influencers sharing on social, is that kind of a basic premise?
Liz Della Croce: Yes. Then there’s also all the other content, blog posts, video photo. For example, we’ll make a blog post with one of the recipes made at the party.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Liz Della Croce: Then they get all photos of the party throughout the blog post.
Bjork Ostrom: Sort of the other benefit is media for them to use on their social?
Liz Della Croce: And maybe that’s a little bit more exciting than that food photo, like you’ve actually got people eating your product in a party setting, not fake and curated.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. And do you have like for somebody to attend, is it like, hey, you can attend and the cost of entry is like two blog posts or two posts to Instagram with the hashtag, or is it kind of like, whatever, if it happens, it happens?
Liz Della Croce: I’ve never rated that formal. It’s really more earned like coverage. I try to make my parties so great though that they can’t help, but take out their phone and take a picture. That’s all about hiring an event planner to style it. I don’t want to pretend this all my … There’s a team. I curate it, I style it, I’ve got music playing. I make it so that the food’s amazing. It’s like on a press trip, now granted, sometimes you are required, but there’s no formal requirement. You just want to make it so great that they can’t stop.
Liz Della Croce: What ends up happening is that nowadays, everyone’s a content creator, so I’ve got random guests making TikToks, reels, all this coverage of my party, and they’re not necessarily being hired to do that. To them, it’s an easy way for them to get cool content to share. They just show up for it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Do you roll that up into a report after for the brand?
Liz Della Croce: Well, I do now with InfluenceKit.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. And do you do that via hashtag?
Liz Della Croce: Actually what I’ll do is yes, a hashtag like #bitsandbites. Then I watch all the content going out of all the guests. I mean, most of these parties are private in my home. I haven’t done any of these actually out to the public. Everyone that comes, I follow them and I can collect all their information and then yeah, we share that with the client.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s really cool. It feels like one of those things where it’s you finding something that’s a good fit for you? Like that would be terrible for me. I would not be a good like party guy.
Liz Della Croce: Why? It seems like you’d be fun.
Bjork Ostrom: I would love to attend it, but the idea of going…
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. You want to leave when you want to leave.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, where did Bjork go? It’s only 8:15.
Liz Della Croce: I know. It is true. It is so much easier. I will say, having thrown events and retreats, I have a new appreciation for just showing up. But I do, to your point, I’ve created … I definitely have designed my life, Bjork, on purpose, and I’ve created a life by design. I know what fills my cup. For example, you’re not going to see me making cookbooks where I’m holed up alone writing tons of recipes by myself for a book that I never see people cook out of. That’s not my energy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s dirt and chocolate pudding.
Liz Della Croce: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: This is why, by the way, I’m sorry to cut you off, this is why, you guys, we’re not competing. There’s no limit to the pie. There’s a piece for everybody because the type of pie you want is not the same type of pie that she wants. So, don’t worry about what other people are up to, or feel envious and jealous because there’s enough for everybody, because guess what? You’re not good at everything.
Bjork Ostrom: I think what’s great about you sharing your story and how you’ve built these different components of your business is like that, I think sometimes we think just about one specific area, which is like search engine optimization for a certain keyword. True, that exists. But also, there’s the ability to have local events with your community of people where the value isn’t showing up in a certain spot. It’s like experiential. It’s your close friends and contacts and it’s an aesthetic that is aligned with what the brand wants.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a very different thing that you can become really successful at while still being in the same general space of like food creator. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve thought about and had conversations around Food Blogger Pro probably needs to evolve into food person, like the broad category of people who are interested in food and recipe content, but you could be interested in blogs, YouTube, events. There’s such a big world and the strategies that you can put around that can all support it.
Bjork Ostrom: So, like search optimization for somebody who does events or catering for a barbecue business, it’s going to still be important, but it’s important in a different way, so I love that. How about on the side of events that you’re doing with other bloggers, publishers, creators, and then having brands come alongside you to sponsor those?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. I recently hosted my sixth food blogger retreat, and I think that food blogger retreats started coming around, probably a good eight years ago. Maybe more for sure, but probably more on my radar about eight years ago. I think that retreats are becoming more and more valuable these days, as well. One with COVID, conferences kind of went by the wayside. What didn’t change is that the food blogging industry almost exploded overnight as people were cooking at home more. Our need for the conferences didn’t go away. In fact, it doubled down, but the conferences went away.
Liz Della Croce: I felt like it was even more important to find ways for us to get together safely and that type of thing, but yeah, I’ve been doing them for six years and each one is a little bit different. There’s a lot of different ways you can do it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What have you found to be the most successful?
Liz Della Croce: Well, and here’s the thing, is that it depends on the attendees. One thing I learned early on is that every food blogger values something different. I really recommend, when you host these, that you pull your attendees to find out what they’re looking for. I’ll tell you what I enjoy, but as a host, it’s not really necessarily about just what I want. It’s also about what the attendees want, both bloggers or the brands, or just the bloggers, because you can also do retreats that have no brand involvement.
Liz Della Croce: I just think it’s important to be both self-aware of what you’re looking for, but also aware of what your group wants. Because the worst thing is to spend months of time planning something that miss the needle of the attendees. Just like understanding your client, understanding what bloggers needs are, and you can only really do that by asking them and finding out.
Bjork Ostrom: What question do you find is most helpful when you’re asking?
Liz Della Croce: Yeah, well, I mean, one is, do you want brands involved? I’ve done retreats before. I’ve done one with GNF Skinnytaste and Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, I’ve done them with all the main bloggers, and everyone, sometimes they want brands, sometimes they don’t. It’s a matter of, do you want the brands to have a say in the event? For example, do you want to be required to cook certain foods or showcase certain foods or write a blog post after? Just so you know, there’s no right or wrong. It’s about the type of retreat you want to plan because it does look very different if you involve brands versus if you don’t.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: What I think you’re getting at though is what do I prefer? I love having the brands be part of the retreat, but just so you know, if you’re listening, you can make a retreat that has no brand involvement and you don’t have to write about it, you don’t have to photograph anything. That’s great too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. The purpose would be different as a facilitator in that, in one situation, you’d be facilitating in a way where it’s kind of, and I have actually a pretty similar thing that’s coming up at the end of October where some people are flying out to Atlanta, and it’s like, I don’t know, eight people, super varied businesses, and just getting together and do like a 30 minute hot seat for eight people during one day and then we all go back.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s connections and it’s great, but it’s like there’s … It’s like at somebody’s house and everybody’s just staying at a hotel, so it’s not the same place. There isn’t any financial piece to it, and you don’t pay to be a part of it, but there’s also no money. It’s just pure connection. In that case, there’s somebody who’s facilitating and takes the burden of facilitation just to make it happen. In the case of events with brands, there would be potential revenue that could come from that with you as a facilitator. But my guess is there’s also expenses, because then you’re probably covering like a lodge or something like that. Is that generally true?
Liz Della Croce: Oh yeah. Yes, exactly. Essentially, there’s pros and cons to both ways. When you have brands involved, the pro is that the bloggers don’t have to pay for their hotels, for example. Cause what we do is we put that sponsored money towards the house, and we do treats in a house. I’ve done them in hotels, but we wanted to be able to like cook together, like mingling the living room. The benefit of a brand is that it lowers the expense for the attendees, versus though, there are retreats I’ve been to where like, let’s just all pay for it and then we don’t have to deal with the brand part.
Liz Della Croce: I personally prefer having some brand involvement. Now I tend to only do them that way, but never say never. There might be a time in the future where I do a retreat that doesn’t have a brand involvement. But yeah, there’s pros and cons.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, that makes sense. One of the questions that I get asked a lot is the general spirit of it is like, how do I make blogging friends? It’s like you see on Instagram, you see on Facebook, wait, all these people got together and they posted this beautiful sunset picture using a drone and there’s a dolphin jumping in the background? Then here I am in my sweatpants at home watching Netflix, and it feels like, gosh, that would be really fun to be a part of that group.
Liz Della Croce: Totally.
Bjork Ostrom: My response often is like, usually you have to be the one that does it. You have to facilitate it in order for it to happen. That’s the best way to get connected. Then you have those people who then have their own network of people that can connect you in other places. But it’s really hard for somebody to just be like, wait, I think I’m going to invite this person just randomly. But it’s also a hard thing to do to facilitate, to invite people. So, how do you do that well? How do you know who to invite in terms of different levels, people who are at a certain point versus just starting? What does the makeup of attendees look like and how do you put together a good group?
Liz Della Croce: Good questions, so important. To your first part, I echo what you said is that, if you want something, you’ve got to really create it. If the opportunity is not coming to your doorstep, don’t just sit there, waiting for it. I remember someone had posted in a Facebook group, hey, I would love to do a retreat who wants to plan it with me? And I said, yes, I’ll do it. And that was the first retreat with Amy Sugarman. Yeah, it was so much fun. It was from there that I realized how much I enjoyed it. Now, full disclosure, Bjork, I have a hospitality background, so I come from a hospitality planning world and event planning world.
Liz Della Croce: So, this is my wheelhouse. This is not everyone’s wheelhouse, just like photography is not my wheelhouse. We all have our thing. I have an event planning background. So, this is just a natural way. Just like I have a tourism background, which is why I do some travel writing. I come from hotel sales, so I do a lot of partnerships with hotels. There’s certain things we have from our previous lives that help do it, but it’s cool to find ways uniquely to help it benefit your peers.
Bjork Ostrom: Which I think that is an important takeaway, to think about, how do your previous skills … I think of Lindsay as a teacher. She did photography workshops.
Liz Della Croce: Literally.
Bjork Ostrom: She just transferred her … I know if you’d see it pretty concretely in how those skills transferred from fourth graders to like adults, it’s just a different subject. I think it’s important for us to think about, what have we been good at, what are we good at, and how can we apply it to the thing that we’re currently working on or want to be working on in the future? Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: My husband has a teaching degree too, and that’s why he does food blog audits. He literally is just obsessed with teaching others how to do about profit SEO. He has day a job. I almost was like, you don’t have time, but he loves to teach.
Bjork Ostrom: Loved it. It’s just what he does.
Liz Della Croce: Whereas audits go on forever because he wants to make sure you know how to do it yourself. But to your point, that’s-
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a site for that? If you want to give it a good promo.
Liz Della Croce: He doesn’t, but anyone can reach out to me at The Lemon Bowl and I can connect you. He’ll probably be so mad that I’m like saying it out loud. But yeah, he’s so funny. He does not have the sales hat that I do. He’s like, don’t promote it. Don’t tell anyone. But no, he’s amazing. Honestly, he loves to help people. I think it’s one of those things he feels badly charging anyone a dime. It’s so funny. He’s that person… But yeah, you can hit me up, but it’s similar where we all have different skills that can transfer into this world.
Liz Della Croce: Going back to the retreats, I quickly realized I love to host them. I’m good at planning and organizing groups and coordinating logistics, and so I just decided to keep doing it, and chances are, if you … I recommend you don’t do it alone. At least get one or two other people to help you. I started out with-
Bjork Ostrom: And facilitate. Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah. Three people is good to start with. I know I can do it with just one other person, but for years, I always needed at least … There needed to be three of us just to divide the workload because it takes about four to six months of planning and about 500 to sometimes up to 800 emails. Just be transparent.
Bjork Ostrom: Between talking to the place where you’ll stay, coordinating with bloggers. If you have brands involved, obviously a lot more. Are you managing all of that in one kind of central spot? Do you have Asana, Trello, your brain?
Liz Della Croce: I use Teams for my business, and I love teams. We are all on the Microsoft Suite. So, we use Teams, we use the Planner, the to-dos, the task, but I’ve actually never done it for the retreat. I actually use a big Google sheet. I think that’s because most people I’m planning with aren’t on teams so we just found the Google sheet was easiest, and in transparency, this next one I’m doing will be my seventh one. So, by now, I’ve kind of got it down, but I do think that there’s so many different tools and systems people could use, but really, we use a spreadsheet and we literally now copy it and just take all the…
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Just duplicate it, yeah, erase it, and then just fill it in again. That makes sense.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah, start over. You asked about attendees.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: This is a big one, Bjork, because nothing can kill a party like having the wrong group of people stuck at a conference for a few days.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally.
Liz Della Croce: Because that’s the thing. This isn’t a conference where you can peace out and go to your hotel room or go out to dinner and leave the conference. You can’t leave the retreat, especially if they’re rarely in cities. They’re usually, like we were just in Breckenridge in the mountains. It’s meant to unwind and unplug. You want to make sure you want to unwind and unplug with these people, to your question, because that is also the most common question I get. Who attends? Who gets to attend? Etc. First and foremost, it’s all people at the same level of experience.
Liz Della Croce: I’ve done it both ways where I’ve invited newer people, but the problem is that it’s not an equal exchange of knowledge and what ends up happening is that one or two bloggers end up just basically answering everybody’s questions for the whole time.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right. It depends being a consulting week for them.
Liz Della Croce: That can be just depleting and not beneficial to that person because no one’s getting paid to go, so for that person to be basically not getting anything out of it, I’m really keen on everyone getting an equal exchange of information. Another thing is it’s not ideal for introverts.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Well, I’ve attended many-
Bjork Ostrom: Who doesn’t want to talk and be around people?
Liz Della Croce: It’s not great. I’ve been on both retreats, press trips, events, and you have the blogger that they’re either not coming to the dinners, not going to the events, they’re holed up in their rooms. Or they’re in the sessions and they’re just on their laptop writing down everything we’re saying, but not contributing, not sharing.
Bjork Ostrom: Like their comfort places, not being vocal. Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Correct. It’s just, that’s not fair for everybody else who’s giving away all this other knowledge that they’ve gained over a decade free of charge.
Bjork Ostrom: How do you know that? How do you, having conversations with people?
Liz Della Croce: Well, I know it because I typically invite people I know, or that my co-hosts knows. I am at the point where it’s just too risky and not worth everyone else’s situation to risk inviting people when I have no background knowledge. If I don’t know them, I reach out to someone that does. Because in fairness, I always like to invite people I’ve never before, but I make sure someone I know and trust can vouch for them. That’s just because, again, you don’t want to…
Bjork Ostrom: Pretty reference check kind of.
Liz Della Croce: Yeah, it really is because what if they have a bad attitude or they’re dramatic. You know how girls are, Bjork. You don’t want to be in a house …
Bjork Ostrom: And guys, yeah.
Liz Della Croce: I always invite lately, a guy, which is so good because it helps the energy. It’s another diverse perspective. Anyways, I love to bring a guy. I wish I could have like five guys, five girls, but there really are fewer male food bloggers.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yup, that makes sense. Have you ever written about them? Is there any places that we can point to or?
Liz Della Croce: I’m going to. I will…
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Do you feel like it would be … It’s something that a lot of people want to know and a lot of people would be curious about. It’s a great way, not only to connect relationally, but also some of the biggest learnings that I’ve had are through experiences like that. A group of people together, not at their computers, not on Zoom, like talking while eating cereal, whatever it may be. Yeah.
Liz Della Croce: Right. It’s kind of what we did last time, and I can link to this. We actually, this time, had a video … Videographer come and do testimonials of the attendees, of the brands and the bloggers, and Tessa from Handle the Heat was our last one. I wasn’t around the interview, so I was watching it for the first time hearing their feedback. And she said, our retreat is basically everything she loves about a conference minus what she doesn’t. And she said her favorite part of the conference was always like the cocktail hour or like, and the lunch break, or walking back to the hotel room, those casual conversations.
Liz Della Croce: It wasn’t in the formal session. She’s like, the retreat is basically all of that stuff you love. Then Dan from The Food and My Beard was also there. And he said in his interview that, unlike a conference where you can’t really dictate the agenda or the sessions or the topics, at a retreat, we actually do hot seats like you just talked about. That hot seat’s whatever you want to talk about. If you’re at lunch, like you can … There’s so much more free flow conversation. We do a lot of just Q&A panels where people can ask whatever they want. At a conference, you can’t really dictate the session, what the topics are, and that’s what’s really nice about a retreat.
Bjork Ostrom: Huh. That’s great. So, as we’re wrapping up here, advice that you would have, we’ll do two pieces of, advice that you’d have for somebody who’s interested in building their business broadly and then your piece of advice for somebody who hasn’t ever attended any event or conference, or any event, we won’t say conference, any event, and wants to like dip their toe into that water?
Liz Della Croce: Yes. Okay. Just a blanket for growing your business. I really think focus on your mindset and focus on honestly, pay attention to the thoughts you have throughout the day. For example, leading it to the retreat, if you see a retreat happening and it kind of like infuriates you or makes you jealous or envious, or, oh, I wish I was there, take that thought and channel into something productive and positive and spend the next day looking for 10 ways that you can interact with people. Find a workshop, a session, a conference, or even post in a Facebook group, anybody want to plan a retreat with me?
Liz Della Croce: Remember, it doesn’t need to be a whole overnight weekend in the mountains. You could do like a one-day get … You could a get-together at Panera in the city. Start small and work your way up. Don’t play victim to it. We all have the same tools at our disposal, and it’s a matter of, are you willing to put the work in it? The reality is that most people don’t want to do the work, Bjork, and it’s a lot of work. It’s true.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.
Liz Della Croce: It’s so much work, and it’s okay. Be self-aware. I think that’s where self-awareness is really key. Being self aware enough to know, wait a minute … Not that you’re too lazy. It’s more that I don’t value that as much. That’s not as important to me as it is to Liz. It’s like, for me, being a good photographer wasn’t as important.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, being okay with that.
Liz Della Croce: Totally. Then, in terms of the retreat, I obviously just gave some advice, but I will say this, we … It was funny because after the retreat happened, a lot of people ask me how they could have gone or when’s the next one, dah, dah, dah. But we actually opened it up for people to attend. We post applications multiple times because we’re always looking for new. I would say if you see people you know hosting these things, follow them on social media, look at their content, watch their stories.
Liz Della Croce: Because that’s really what we do is I posted on my Instagram stories … The thing is, I’m probably not going to invite someone that has no context on me. If you want to come to my event, you need to start getting to know me, and that’s just because that’s the reality of it. Right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Liz Della Croce: I need you to know that I’m loud and crazy so that you don’t show up thinking that we’re going to be quiet…
Bjork Ostrom: Level set what the expectations are. That’s great. Liz, obviously we talked a little bit about where folks can find you, but can you just do a quick little shout out to the different places where you’re active online and where people can follow along with you?
Liz Della Croce: Yes. Please, if you’re listening, come say hi at The Lemon Bowl, The L-E-M-O-N Bowl on Instagram everywhere, TikTok, Facebook, lemonbowl.com. Reach out to me if you’d like to be notified when we do have our … We are doing another retreat this May. May 2022 in Arizona and we will be opening it up once again. I don’t want to hear anyone saying, how do I get to go? Because we will literally open it up.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome, and a great little invite there at the end, so thanks for doing that. Liz, so great to chat with you. We could talk for hours. Thanks for coming on the podcast.
Liz Della Croce: Thanks, Bjork, talk to you soon.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this interview. A big thank you to Liz for coming on, sharing her insights and expertise. If you haven’t yet, check out foodbloggerpro.com. The easiest thing to do when you go there because it’s free and it’s also helpful is just to sign up for the email list there, and right away, you’ll see that you get a little PDF that ties into some of the conversations that we’ve had today. It’s 16 ways that you can be earning an income from your site. We could actually make it 17 after the interview today by talking about retreats and hosting events like Liz has talked about here, maybe the case in point with that is there’s always new and unique and creative ways that you can be thinking about building your business.
Bjork Ostrom: And Liz was great in offering that filter, or maybe that viewpoint in terms of how we think about building our site, building our business. Thanks for tuning in. We really appreciate you, the audience, for being a part of this. If not for you, we wouldn’t do this podcast. So, every episode that you listen to, every time that you share an episode, means a lot to us and helps allow us to continue to do this each and every day. So, thanks for being a part of it.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll be back here next week. Until then, our hope is that, whether through the blog, Food Blogger Pro, through the podcast or any other medium, that we can help you get a tiny bit better every day forever. That’s why we are here. Make it a great week. Thanks.