459: How Lisa Bass from Farmhouse on Boone Diversified Her Business and Found Work-Life Balance

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This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Memberful.

Welcome to episode 459 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Lisa Bass from Farmhouse on Boone.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Marley Braunlich. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

How Lisa Bass from Farmhouse on Boone Diversified Her Business and Found Work-Life Balance

Lisa Bass first started her site, Farmhouse on Boone, in 2016. Since then, she has diversified her brand to include a podcast, YouTube channel, courses, and more (all while raising 8 children)!

In this podcast interview, Bjork and Lisa talk about balancing her business with her family life, and how she has built a team to support her business over the years. Lisa also chats about how each arm of her business ranks in terms of income, and why she continues to prioritize YouTube.

Lisa has been one of our most-requested podcast guests and we’re so happy to have her join us! Hope you enjoy the episode.

A photograph of bread rolls in a blue dish with a quote from Lisa Bass's episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast that reads, "I love the blog, but I enjoy YouTube."

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • More about Lisa’s journey from starting her site in 2016 (and growing her site to have multiple millions of monthly pageviews).
  • What she attributes her success to.
  • How she balances her business and home-schooling her 8 (!!!) children.
  • How she has built her team over the years and what the workflow within her business looks like.
  • How her different platforms (blog, social media, podcast, YouTube) fit into her income.
  • Why she continues to prioritize creating content for YouTube.
  • What her strategy around creating YouTube content is (and how she’s improved it over the years).
  • What she would do if she was just starting Farmhouse on Boone today.
  • What tools she uses to run her business.


Thank you to our sponsors!

This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Memberful.

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Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode!

Sign up for Clariti today to easily organize your blog content for maximum growth and receive access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing, 50% off your first month, optimization ideas for your site content, and more!

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

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Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Memberful. Looking to find sustainable sources of income from your blog this year that don’t include fighting against changing search engines and social media algorithms? With exclusive membership content, you can create a new source of income by turning your food blog into a membership business while creating the content you’re passionate about. Memberful has everything you need to quickly get your membership program up and running with content gating, paid newsletters, private podcasts, and much more. Plus, Memberful seamlessly integrates with your existing WordPress website, or you can use Memberful to create your own member home within minutes using their in-house tools, and with Memberful, you can create multiple membership tiers, limiting access to certain recipes, meal plans, and cooking tutorials to better connect with your most devoted followers and monetize the content you’re already producing.

By using Memberful, you’ll have access to a world-class support team ready to help you set up your membership and grow your revenue. They’re passionate about your success, and you’ll always have access to a real human when you need help. Food creators are already using Memberful to foster community within their audiences and monetize their content, and listeners to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast can go memberful.com/food to learn more about Memberful solutions for food creators and create an account for free. That’s M-E-M-B-E-R-F-U-L.com/food. Thanks again to Memberful for sponsoring this episode.

Emily Walker: Hey there. This is Emily from The Food Blogger Pro Team, and you are listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. This week on the podcast, Bjork is chatting with Lisa Bass from the blog Farmhouse on Boone. Lisa has been one of our most requested podcast guests, and we are so thrilled to welcome her onto the podcast this week. She first started her site in 2016 and has since diversified her brand to include a podcast, a really successful YouTube channel, courses, and more, all while raising and homeschooling eight children.

In this podcast interview, Bjork and Lisa chat a little bit more about balancing her business with her family life, how she’s built a team to support her business and grow her business, and how she ranks each arm of her business in terms of what she enjoys doing and the income it contributes to her business overall. She also shares more about why she continues to prioritize YouTube and shares some insight into the tools she uses to help run her business. It’s an awesome interview and just so much fun to learn more about Lisa, so I’m going to let Bjork take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Lisa, welcome to the podcast.

Lisa Bass: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be on.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So this is Old hat for you. You have a podcast as well.

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So you have your nice mic. It sounds great. You have your connection. It’s like you’ve done this before.

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s actually going to be one of the things that we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about diversification, and the different platforms, and intentionally building in multiple places. But before we do that, it’s always fun to hear a little bit of a backstory for what brought you to this point. So take us back to the moment when you decided that you wanted to start publishing content online. Did you know you wanted to do it as a business? Was it something that you just wanted to do for fun? What was that moment like?

Lisa Bass: So I am one of those people who started it as a business. Yes, I was writing about things that I was excited about sharing, and passionate about, and all that, but I definitely was doing it to earn an income and to be a business. I started it way back in early 2016. So, in internet years, that’s like a century, basically, ago.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. I started with a blog, and then I ventured into YouTube two years after that, and then podcasting about two years after that. I’ve just continued to add things, and grow my team, and what I have going on. So that’s in a nutshell.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I love that that’s how you approached it. It’s great also if people are like, “I did it, and then I stumbled into it, and it became a thing.”

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think what’s really helpful to hear is people who have a story of like, “I got into this because I wanted to start a business, and the business that I wanted to start was publishing content online,” and you did it. Now, here we are eight years later, and you have a successful business with the team. I would be interested in talking about the different parts that make up your business. So you started with your site.

Lisa Bass: Right. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: At this point, it’s getting multiple millions of sessions a month. That in and of itself is really successful. How did you go about building that up? Because in those early stages, it can be a grind and can feel like you’re just hustling, and you don’t really have any payback for the work that you’re doing. What was it like in the early stages, and how did you continue to show up every day and to get to this point?

Lisa Bass: Well, so when I first started my blog, like you said, I didn’t gain traction right away. I definitely didn’t understand search engine optimization. I didn’t understand Pinterest and how that could be bringing traffic to my blog. Then, I got sidetracked a bit the year after I started my blog because I got an Instagram, and I think like everybody else, but thankfully, I didn’t quit. I didn’t think, “This is where it’s at.” I saw it and thought, “Okay. This is where you’re actually supposed to be creating content.”

I didn’t quite understand how you’re going to monetize either one of those, but it seemed like everybody was trying to build an audience over on Instagram. So I got a little bit sidetracked with that, I would say, the year after I started my blog. Then, the next year after, basically, building my Instagram up to 20,000 followers, not really seeing a whole lot of return from it, I decided to go all in on the blog. By all in, I just mean I was going to publish two posts per week no matter what in that year which whatever year that was. I think it was ’17. Yeah, it was ’17.

Then, by the end of that year, I had enough traffic to get on Mediavine at that time, I believe. So then, I was earning an income like 500 bucks a month which for me was such a game-changer. Once I was able to see some money from it, it wasn’t hard for me to keep plugging away because after that year, I had a hundred posts. They weren’t really search-engine-optimized. I did not understand that at all, but they were on Pinterest, and I was making graphics that were good. So I was gaining a lot of traffic, and so I thought, “If I could have a hundred posts on Pinterest, what if I had 200 posts circulating Pinterest? What would that pay me?” So that helped me to stay pretty motivated.

Bjork Ostrom: Once you are able to get to that point where you’re earning an income, you can start to play the numbers game a little bit.

Lisa Bass: Exactly. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You can say like, “Wow. What does it feel like to make $500 from this business that I created?” and you can look into it and say, “I see that this traffic is coming from Pinterest or it’s coming from a search engine. Okay. How do I replicate that and turn this 500 into a thousand?”

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So what did that look like? Was it just a matter of doing the early hustle and grind of building content, starting to get some traction with it, and then from there, seeing what worked, and replicating, and building on that. What did it look like to go from 500 to tens of thousands that you are earning as you start to scale up the amount of traffic to the point where you are now because there’s a lot that has to happen between where you are now and where you were then?

Lisa Bass: Yeah. Honestly, it really has just been more of the same. I don’t have some key thing. Except for that, over the last eight years, two blog posts have been published every single week the entire time through babies being born, vacations, all… We homeschool. We have eight kids. So, through all of that, I’ve just kept going, and then of course, we have 2020, which for a blogger like me, I specialize in from-scratch food. I do sourdough. I had a sourdough starter back in 2011, and I was creating sourdough-

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm. Before it was cool.

Lisa Bass: Before it was cool. So I was creating sourdough content. You can go on YouTube, and you can find my video from 2016 of me doing sourdough. So, yes, there has been a little element of luck, definitely, thrown in the mix there, but I was there with my… I mean, I have, I don’t know, thousands of blog posts at this point, and then it’s just been… It really has been more of the same. I have definitely learned search engine optimization. I’ve learned how to title posts, how to write them, what the format is, and all of that. That has definitely helped, but I don’t feel like the workload has majorly increased as much as just more of the same, and the income has definitely increased.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think there is so much to be said about that which is continually showing up over a long period of time. It’s eight years of publishing two posts a week, and to your point, every once in a while, you’ll get lucky, and some of those will perform really well, but you wouldn’t have gotten lucky if you didn’t show up twice a week for eight years.

Lisa Bass: Right. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it maybe is all of us, it keeps us all humble in that there’s Google algorithm changes or there’s events that happen that suddenly people are interested in a certain type of food, and you’re producing that certain type of food as the content. But there’s also the element of showing up, and working really hard, and being consistent, and improving over time. There’s this idea of luck wears overalls like you… Hard work often results in luck, whether it’s publishing content online, writing songs. I think some of the greatest songwriters have written 99% of the songs that they’ve written we probably haven’t heard, and then it seems like, “Oh my gosh, the only thing that Ed Sheeran does is write hits,” and it’s like, “Well, he’s probably also-”

Lisa Bass: Yeah. No.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and he talks a lot about, in the early stages, getting the bad songs out like you just have to have that repetition and continue to show up. So I’m interested to hear a little bit about the part where you talk about having eight kids, homeschooling, and doing all of this. That’s an incredible amount, and I think I even think back to before we had our kids. It was still a lot without having kids and juggling homeschooling.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So how do you do that? What does it look like on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis for you?

Lisa Bass: Yeah, and I do want to say, just on the last point, stuff has definitely improved. When I look at my photography from back then, I’m like, “Oh my Lord, what was I thinking?” But I think it is just been like over time, it just all gets better. But with the whole family, and eight kids, and all the homeschooling, it is a lot. Now, I will say my husband has been home from his job for six years, so we have been able to do this together for the last six years which means that he was home for the birth of our last four kids which is significant because we do all of this together.

It definitely takes two people. Sometimes it could probably take more, but we have a little schedule at this point, very much. We have the whole thing, the flow of the day and how it goes. We have fine-tuned that, and so we know when I can have some time to do things like this that I need quiet time in the house. But then, most of the day, it’s very much on the fly. We have our homeschool hours, and then we have a time where I have a little bit of time, and then we have family evening hours. I think the key for us is we have a lot of… or very few outside obligations.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Lisa Bass: So we don’t do a whole lot of sports, and this is just the kind of things that we’ve prioritized for our family.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Totally.

Lisa Bass: You can have everything, but not at the same time, so it’s what we’ve chosen.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: If we’re home and we don’t have a lot of stuff going on, it’s actually very manageable. I also have a team, of course, so I have a lot of help. My business gets worked on way more hours in a day than I actually do, so that’s… I mean, that’s completely key. I could never have a YouTube channel, a podcast, a blog, and all of this without that outside help.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I love the idea of you can do… Tell me if this is what you’re getting at. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything?

Lisa Bass: That’s the quote I was trying to get out.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Lisa Bass: Correct.

Bjork Ostrom: Where it’s like, in your case, you have a really successful business, you have a family that you’re spending time with, you’re homeschooling, you have eight kids, but you’re also not enrolling every one of your kids in soccer, and tee-ball, and in theater because you’re making intentional decisions to say like, “This is what we want our family to look like, our business to look like,” and building around that.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things we talk a lot about is this idea of defining what game you’re playing. We talk about it within the context of business, but I think realistically, it’s both business and personal like, “What do you want your life to look like, and how do you work towards that and build around that?” For some people, they might want to be really scheduled and have a bunch of stuff, but to know that that probably means that you’re not going to have as much time for other things because you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Lisa Bass: Yes. Absolutely. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I love that.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about your team? So one of the things that I think about is for all of us, once we have the ability to work with people, whether it’s using money that’s not coming from our business to accelerate the growth of it or working on it ourselves until it gets to the point where we can invest back into it and bring people in, those, the two options from a financial resource standpoint, you get to a point in either one of those scenarios where you start to realize that you could work 40 hours on a thing, but it’s also possible that those 40 hours could be somebody that you’re hiring who then works on that thing that you need to get done.

What I’ve found is a lot of the things that I thought I was critical to be involved with, actually, there’s really smart, really capable, really motivated people who you can work with to do that, and that allows you to craft your schedule, work or life schedule differently because these people are coming in, and they’re helping you. It sounds like you’ve done that. So what does your team look like, and how have you found it to be most beneficial to work with a team on all the different things that you’re doing?

Lisa Bass: So I started investing in a team really early on. I started with a product business. So I was making and embroidering pillows, and table runners, and all of these farmhouse goods back in our old house in the upstairs bedroom, and I started blogging. I had both of these things going. I thought this will be the way I’ll earn income fast. I’ll ship out products, and I’ll have this more passive income with the blog. I quickly learned that I could not do both. I either had to give up one or the other, or hire somebody to take on one. So I hired somebody, even though we didn’t have a whole lot of extra money at that point, to come, and sew, and ship pillow covers. That way, I could focus on the blog.

It’s been like that over time. As I want to start something new, I don’t have the extra bandwidth, the extra hours in the day, so I’ll bring on somebody who, like you said, is more capable. I have somebody who’s been helping me write for the blog for, I think, five years now. She is better at so many things than me. I’m not an analytics person. I don’t log into Google Analytics. I’m just not into that. Same with my YouTube Analytics. I don’t ever keep track of any of that stuff, but she does, and she’ll track whenever I’m losing a ranking on something or something that I should be ranking for. So I have a blog writer. She’s moved into blog manager because I now have three writers, and she assigns things. She reads. We have a checklist. She reads things over before publishing them. I have somebody who manages my Instagram. So I create a YouTube video, and then she chops it up, and crops it vertically, and makes it into really cool reels. She’s so good at it. I go on my Instagram, and I’m like, “That is good. That is really good.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. “This is a good content.”

Lisa Bass: She got me 700,000 views the other day on something. I’m like, “I didn’t even think to make a reel on that.” So that’s just something I don’t even log into ever, and then I have an email writer. She also helps me create funnels for all the different courses and whatnot. I have somebody who helps me make courses. I have a podcast manager. The one thing that I do start to finish is my YouTube. That’s just because over time, I have tried so many editors, and it takes me longer to convey my vision of the video than it does for me just to do it myself. So that’s the part that I completely handle, and then all of the content branches out from that content with my team.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So you are shooting on your own, you and your husband are shooting, and then you edit as well?

Lisa Bass: Yeah, I shoot and edit every… Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Lisa Bass: Start to finish. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think of it in the context of… So, my wife, Lindsay, Pinch of Yum, her place that she owns the Voice of is the blog, so she’s writing all those articles or blog posts, and then Instagram. But anything that’s off of that, example being TikTok or YouTube, we don’t have a big YouTube following, but those are the supported places from the original piece of content which is the vision. It sounds like for you, the way that you are manifesting your vision for a piece of content is through a video, shooting and editing, and that becomes the thing that other platforms then take and build off of. Is that more or less correct?

Lisa Bass: Correct. That’s absolutely right. So, my blog writer, I will make several things and recipes in my videos. My videos aren’t like a how-to or this one recipe. I’m sharing it in the context of a day in the life type of video. I will be making things, and then she will do the keyword research and find the blog posts that can happen from that video. Like you said, all the content from the emails to the TikTok to the YouTube Short to everything with Instagram branches out from that long-form, horizontal, 25-minute YouTube video that has a whole bunch of stuff in it. That’s how. Yeah. It sounds like what you do, except for maybe you have the starting point of the blog, and I have the starting point of the YouTube channel. Even though the blog is ultimately the better income earner, it still helps to get all the pieces and parts moving together.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and so much of it comes down to, “Where do you find yourself naturally wanting to create? On what canvas are you most compelled to paint?”

Lisa Bass: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: For you, it sounds like that’s YouTube.

Lisa Bass: Oh, yeah, 100%. Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: For other people, it’s Instagram. For other people, it’s writing, and finding what that is, sticking to that, but it’s not necessarily then throwing away these other platforms and saying like, “Hey, we’re not going to post there.” It’s just saying, “Maybe you aren’t going to post there, but you’re still going to have a presence there because it’s important to have those other platforms.”

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So how did you find these people? Were they followers that you put a job description out and they applied to it? Then, to what degree did you have the system built before versus asked them to do it, and then they built the system that followed?

Lisa Bass: So it’s totally been on the fly. It’s been one at a time. It’s been where I’ll sometimes, and I’m sure, if you guys have been having your blog for so long, probably even longer than me, I’m pretty sure, so you have experienced this, but I have definitely thought in the past like, “Oh, just handing something off to somebody and just thinking that would work without a whole lot of my direction?” I have learned over time that that doesn’t really work too well, and so I’ve had things where I’ve let somebody take something over, and then realized over time, “Oh, that’s not going how I wanted it to,” so I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments.

I have found them through a lot of things. Followers, like you said, have reached out. They’ve emailed. I’m sure you’ve probably had that, but I get that all the time. I have a whole folder in my inbox of potential VAs who have reached out to me should I ever need more, but that’s where a lot of them have come from is something like that. My blog writer, she’s a blogger herself, but she liked the extra, very dependable side income of working for me. So she’s been fabulous because she already knew everything. She already knew how blogging worked. A lot of people, I’ve trained completely from the ground up. Some have worked out, some haven’t, but over time, I’ve definitely acquired here and there a great team.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So much of it comes down to it being a skill, and I think sometimes we think like, “Hey, it should work out in a way where you hire somebody,” and then it just works out well, but it’s similar to any other skill that you develop. Whether it’s drawing, or playing the saxophone, or cooking, it’s like the skill of working with a team, communicating a vision, it’s something that you get better at over time, and it’s something that you always need to be improving on. Just like any Instrument, it’s like people are always practicing, and I think the same could be said for working with a team, working with other people. It’s like you’re always figuring out ways to do that better.

Just like in life, we’re always figuring out how to do relationships better, how to be a friend better. I think the same thing applies too when we work with people. We’re figuring out how to do that better. So I think for anybody who feels like it’s intimidating, or that it’s scary, or that it’s hard, it’s just a validation of like, “It is,” and you hear that in your story too where it’s like sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, and you learn along the way. Before we continue, let’s take a moment to hear from our sponsors.

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So when you think of… so you have your different platforms, you have the blog, you have YouTube, you have Instagram, how would you rank-order the importance of those to your business? It’s always interesting for me to hear people reflect on those different places, and what’s most valuable?

Lisa Bass: Yeah, and I know it’s different for everybody too. If you actually looked at the breakdown of their income, it’s totally different across the board. For me, the blog is the most important income-wise, for sure, then YouTube, and then… Gosh, I’m trying to decide if I should even put Instagram next. I hesitate to because I feel that there is so much time wasted on Instagram. I know people make money on Instagram, but just for hour-for-hour spent, for me, that’s definitely third place in importance with those. I would say that I do have course sales and affiliates that come from that, but the bulk of it, I would say definitely blog first, then YouTube for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm, and within the blog-

Lisa Bass: Then, TikTok is way down there.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. TikTok. We got to list it.

Lisa Bass: We got TikTok.

Bjork Ostrom: It may or may not be around by the time this episode comes out. There’s always the question like, “Is it going to be here?”

Lisa Bass: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Bjork Ostrom: For the blog, advertising being the primary income?

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Lisa Bass: Yes, the only… I mean, I guess affiliates too, but yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah. So when you think of your strategy then, I’m curious to hear how YouTube fits in because there’s advertising dollars from YouTube, but there’s also the potential of doing sponsored content. So, with your YouTube mindset on or your YouTube hat on, how do you think of that as a platform for your business, and is one of the primary benefits of it that it seeds content for the blog?

Lisa Bass: Yes. So, YouTube, I have probably an unusual strategy in that I do take a sponsor on for every video. Okay. So with the blog and with the way RPMs are, it pays so much better per thousand visitors than views on YouTube which is really weird because whenever somebody watches a commercial, you think they’re getting a lot more from that as far as advertising, but YouTube income, ad income compared to blog income, it’s not even comparable, honestly, so I do-

Bjork Ostrom: What you’re saying is essentially, if you had a thousand people, and you were to pick, “Can I have them watch a YouTube video, or can these thousand people go to my website?” you would choose the website because on average, that thousand people are going to earn you, depending on what site it is, how many ads you have, $30, $40, $50.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. It’s way more money. Right. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Versus YouTube would be… if you had a video that had a thousand views, you might make $2? What would that look like?

Lisa Bass: Something like that. I mean, I never look into analytics, but I know it’s something like that. It’s less than $10, and like you said, it’s $30, $40 for the blog. So if you’re doing… I mean, it’s still a great income. I get a lot of views. But if I’m looking at my time and how to spend it, it would make more sense just to spend all of that time on the blog, but I continue on with YouTube for a few reasons. One is, like you said, it seeds everything else. Two, I love it. Like you mentioned earlier, I enjoy making videos.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right. It’s a huge part of it. Yeah.

Lisa Bass: It’s fun for me. If I just quit just to retire, I would still make videos because it’s a creative process that I really enjoy. So I guess I also do it because I enjoy it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yep.

Lisa Bass: Then, I take on a sponsor to help with that income a bit for the videos. I only post once a week. Then, also, I do think that it helps blog traffic. Now, when I look at my analytics, people aren’t clicking the links in my description box and heading over from YouTube, but I get 500,000 views a month on just my homepage. I don’t know if that’s comparable to other creators or if that’s high. I think it’s high, and I would say that’s because constantly, throughout all my videos, I’ll make this, and I’ll make this, and I always say, “Go over to farmhouseonboone.com. Go to farmhouseonboone.com.” So I do think it helps with my overall brand, and I really like the diversification.

Bjork Ostrom: Brand. Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Especially with all the things that people have been scared lately with Google things. I mean, I heard they’re not getting rid of cookies, so that’s cool, but I really like having that diverse business.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Totally. With cookies, you’re talking about third-party cookies, this big advertising consideration where on Chrome, desktop and mobile, cookies going away, which means that advertising is less effective. Google keeps punting that and saying like it will happen, but I think most recently, there’s some considerations around European legislation.

Lisa Bass: Okay. I don’t know.

Bjork Ostrom: Anyway, it’s getting moved further and further down, which is good, because advertising then is more effective, but there is always the consideration around like, “What if that changes and advertising dollars go down?” or as a lot of people have experienced recently, there’s a Google algorithm update, and your traffic goes down. One of the things that we continually hear and that you’re talking about as being really important is brand.

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You are at the top of somebody’s mind not because they had a random search and you showed up as a search result for that. That probably happens, and that’s great, but to be the kind of brand where people are searching for your name and then coming to your site is really valuable. I think you’re onto something there where you have this YouTube account where you have probably millions of views that come from that. Inevitably, a percentage of those people are going to take the prompt that you have around, “Hey, go over here, and go to Google and search this recipe,” or to search your brand name. That definitely has an impact.

I was having a conversation. I think this was a live Q&A that we had for Food Blogger Pro members, and there’s somebody named Paul Bannister who works for Raptive, and he was talking about this idea of like… He said, “You know the company that doesn’t worry about Google algorithm updates? One company that doesn’t worry about it is Disney.” His point was like Disney has such strong brand. They have these characters. They have these super fans where they’re not transactional and showing up as a search result for something. They have a brand.

I think for us as creators and publishers, it’s one of the best things that we can do is we can think about what does that look like for us to have a strong brand and for people to be attracted to that brand, benefit if you can also be smart about search optimization, but even more strong if you can have the brand surrounding that. So when you think about your YouTube channel, that also is something that has experienced significant growth. What do you think has been the most helpful growth variables for you with that account over the last seven or eight years?

Lisa Bass: I think that it’s just… I’m stealing this from MrBeast because I listen… I don’t watch MrBeast, but I listen to his YouTube strategy stuff because I love YouTube. I enjoy YouTube strategy, learning to get better. He talks about how all he’s done over the last several years, and obviously, I’ve done it nowhere to the extent that he has, but is just improve the quality of his videos, always making the videos better.

Bjork Ostrom: Obsessive about that. Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. He’s obsessed with… He’s way obsessed. I’m obsessed as much as a mom of eight can be, so I can only spend so much time doing that, but I do feel that over the last six years of making videos, I mean, I’ve never skipped a week, I have improved little by little to the point where I feel now that I’m creating something that’s entertaining. It pulls people into a certain feeling. I get told that a lot. I try to create these shots that make people feel like… Even if they don’t want to make a recipe that day, it’s still fun to watch me do it because of the way I’ve shot it, or the music, or how I’ve talked about it. I try to pack in a lot of education without it being a tutorial video, but just pack it in and teach them through something that’s also entertaining so that it’s enjoyable, even if it’s something you’re not going to do today, tomorrow, or even next year. It’s like, I don’t know, an aspirational type of content. I enjoyed this. Yeah, trying to make the videos just a little bit better with each one.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. We talk about this idea. It’s actually our parent company. We call it tiny bit, tiny bit better every day forever.

Lisa Bass: Yes, yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re a great example of that is like eight years of saying, “Okay. I’m going to produce a video every week, but I’m not going to produce the same video. I’m going to figure out how do I produce this video and make it better than the last one.” What do you think are some of the… Could you point to key breakthroughs that you’ve had in terms of what makes a video better?

Lisa Bass: Well, I will say the biggest thing is I used to do… When I started, I did everything very tutorial-based instead of more of the storytelling aspect and bringing people into that story, and I think a lot about the story now. I also try to make them more beautiful. So I try to get shots that are annoying to get. For example, down in our basement… We have an old house, so we have a stone foundation. We put a little basement pantry, and I lug the camera downstairs to grab things off the shelves, and I would lug the camera into the pantry to grab the oats down from the glass jar. I make flower arrangements. I take all the things that I really love and try to do them all and make it all very beautiful. I don’t know if that’s a breakthrough. I would just say I pack more into each video.

One more thing that I will say is the first five years on YouTube, I did two videos every single week, and the beginning of last year, so 2023, I went down to one video a week. Instead of just doing maybe one or two things in a video twice a week, I pack all of those things, whether it’s I’m going to make two recipes, decorate something, organize something, make a flower arrangement. I have a formula of the kind of things I like to include in the video. I’ll pack them all into one. So, before, people used to choose. So if they followed me, and they like to catch up, they wouldn’t watch every video because they didn’t have time to watch two videos every week. So, now, instead of choosing between the two, they just watch the one, and so I ended up getting, I would say, more than double the views on the one video as I used to get on the two.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Lisa Bass: So going down to one video actually really helped my views instead of hurting it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think of the ultimate example of that being Mark Rober/Robber.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. Mark Rober. Yeah. Yeah, my kids like-

Bjork Ostrom: Rober.

Lisa Bass: He’s the CrunchLabs guy, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Lisa Bass: Rober? Rober?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. Maybe it’s Rober. Either way, my kids like him.

Bjork Ostrom: He does… I don’t know if it’s one a month, but-

Lisa Bass: Oh, not even that, I feel like, but yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Once every two months and-

Lisa Bass: High-quality. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s just like they’re so compelling, and interesting, and have such a great story. It’s obvious that each one probably takes multiple thousands of hours to produce and create.

Lisa Bass: Oh, I’m sure. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: But what happens is then they get tens of millions of views.

Lisa Bass: They all get watched.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yes, they get watched. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s something to be said about doing less from a quantity standpoint, but taking the same amount of time and just making it better and-

Lisa Bass: Exactly. Yeah, and that’s what I did, and it’s also relative because some people will say, “I do two videos a week,” or, “I do four videos a week,” and then the other person, “Oh, I only do one a week.” Then, you watch them. You’re like, “Yeah, but you put all of that effort into that one.” It’s very relative thing to say the number of videos you do because I spend as much time on YouTube now as I always did. I just pack it all into one, and it also makes me feel less bad about putting a sponsor because I’ve put… It’s like a one or two-minute spot in a 25… Not all are 25 minutes, but I try to aim for around 20, 25 minutes. So much stuff, so many recipes. I really put everything I can for a once-a-week video. It’s a treadmill, so I can only do so much. If I was Mark, I could do way more.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. I try to pack it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How about on the sponsor side of things? How do you find those people? Are they ongoing relationships that you have, or are they people that you do work with an agent? What have you found to work best? We understand sponsorships within the context of Instagram or maybe on the blog.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: But YouTube, it feels like it’s maybe a little bit different. What does that look like?

Lisa Bass: It is. It is different. So I do have an agent. Actually, I’ve switched, but I always have had an agent. Like you said, ongoing relationships are the best thing about YouTube. Most of my contracts are with a handful of brands for the year. So, at the beginning of this year, I already had half the year booked out with brands that I’ve worked with over and over, and people say like, “Oh, sponsorships. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s so much work.” I’m not saying it’s not. It does add on additional work, but with the brands I’ve built relationships with, I know exactly what they want from me. I know exactly what to say. I can set up the camera and get it all done within just a few minutes because it’s not like I have to read through the brief and familiarize myself with the product. All of that is what’s so time-consuming, but I have found some… and every once in a while I’ll do a one-off, but very rarely. For the most part, it’s brands that I know and love, I’ve worked with for years, and so it’s very easy and straightforward.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. In that relationship, is the agent going out and pitching you to those brands, and then you know the people that you want to work with, and you’re saying yes/no on the different companies?

Lisa Bass: Yes, that’s correct. So, yeah, I get pitched a lot more than what I take. I like to take ones that I know well, I can very easily endorse, and then every once in a while, for my podcast, I have a whole different thing going on. It’s the dynamic ads, and so that’s different.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Lisa Bass: For YouTube, it’s really straightforward whenever you work with the same brand 12 months out of the year which does happen.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah, the podcast ads. We’re just starting to get into the world of podcast ads. Anybody who’s listened to the podcast would know we’re experimenting with that. What you talked about. There’s this thing now where you can do dynamic ad insertion where you have a slot that… We haven’t done it yet, but a slot that you designate in the podcast.

Lisa Bass: We just started.

Bjork Ostrom: Then, it will run… similar to your blog, it just inserts an ad potentially based on location, or demographic, or just anybody could bid on that ad slot. Is that more or less what you’re doing?

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yes, and it’s real easy because there’s no video component, so you don’t have to memorize the brief or memorize all the things. Brands always have a certain promo that they’re trying to… certain talking points for certain times of the year, so that can get confusing. But with the sponsorships on the dynamic ads, it’s more of a read which makes it a lot simpler, but it pays less too, of course.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Sure. That makes sense. What platform are you using for that?

Lisa Bass: True Native.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s the podcast publishing platform or the podcast advertising-

Lisa Bass: That’s the ads.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: True Native, and then you do that through which podcast platform?

Lisa Bass: Oh my goodness, I just switched. Now, I’m trying to remember. I had to switch to do the ads.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay.

Lisa Bass: I was on Anchor, but I had to switch, so I can’t even remember what it is now because my podcast managers upload everything.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. They take care of it, yeah, which is great.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Going back to that like working with the team and capable people to help with that.

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So how about tools? One of the things that’s always interesting to hear from people is like you are doing a lot, and it could be personal as well. You’re doing a lot in your personal life, you’re doing a lot in your work life, and my guess is that you have some tools that help to make that easier, whether it’s software, or systems, or processes, or even a framework of a mental framework that you use to make decisions. Is there anything that you would point out to people around like, “Hey, here’s a tool that I’m using that’s really helpful for me to do what I need to do?”

Lisa Bass: So my tool that I use for my team is Trello. We tried using Slack, and I just could not get in the habit of checking it all the time. So people would send messages in Slack, and then I’d miss them. So I’m kind of bad about this. I’m one of those people where whenever something works, I don’t change it even if there’s a better alternative just for… forever.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Totally.

Lisa Bass: I have to be so convinced it’s so significantly better for me ever to change. I’ll pay more, I’ll deal with some headaches just to not change. That’s how I am.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Lisa Bass: So, Trello. The way I have it set up, it’s pretty easy, but all my team logs in, and we have colors for each person. So we’ll have the blogs listed out and the pod… for each week, the blog posts, the podcast, the video, the sponsors, and then each person has a color on what they’re supposed to work on. That’s the main thing I use. For True Native, I use something called Teamwork, and that’s where I log in to see what ad reads I’m supposed to do, but that’s it. I mean, it’s basic.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. No. That’s great. How about in the video side of things? When you’re editing and shooting, is there anything that’s helpful with that?

Lisa Bass: So I use Final Cut Pro for editing all my videos. It’s very easy, very straightforward. Highly recommend Final Cut Pro. I’ve tried other things, and that’s for sure the easiest and best one, but that’s it. I use Epidemic Sound for music. I use ConvertKit for email. I mean, I use EasyWebinar. I use Teachable. So many things across my business, but to organize everybody, Trello is the hub for that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That’s great. So how about this? Let’s say that everything goes away. You wake up tomorrow, and it’s like something happened. Who knows what it was? A digital apocalypse, and you have to start building your business over again. What would that look like? How would you approach building a business in 2024, a digital content business, knowing what you know now?

Lisa Bass: Okay. So everything is gone, but the platforms… Sorry. Nobody recognizes Farmhouse on Boone?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lisa Bass: The platforms are still there?

Bjork Ostrom: All the platforms are there in this digital apocalypse.

Lisa Bass: MySpace? Wiped clear of the memory?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lisa Bass: They don’t know who I am? Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, yep, yep. Men in Black, they’ll do the flasher thing.

Lisa Bass: Yes. Oh man, I have actually thought about this a lot, and to be honest, I would do YouTube. That’s not to say that I don’t think blogging is a great opportunity. Oh my word, I’m so glad I didn’t quit blogging when other people thought that Instagram was where it was at because I’d be leaving so much on the table. So I want to say I would do blogging, but I don’t know if I have it in me to restart. Now, that’s not because I think it’s that hard. It’s because I already did it, and I would just be like, “No.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: But the one thing that I really enjoy doing is making videos, so I think from a perspective of like, “Okay. I’m worn out. I already did all that. I’ve been there,” because my mind hasn’t been wiped clear, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Lisa Bass: I have to still know what I know.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. In this hypothetical. Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. In this hypothetical, I have already gone through all of this, and now it’s gone?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Lisa Bass: The only thing I’d have the motivation to continue would be YouTube because I still enjoy it. The blog? I love the blog, but I enjoy YouTube, so I would-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Lisa Bass: I think with what I know now, I do think I could pretty quickly become successful again on YouTube. I really believe that, so.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think so much of it comes down to what you’re talking about there which is like how do you as a content creator or business owner because sometimes for some of the people listening, they start out creating content, and they get to a point where they don’t love it anymore, but maybe they do love a different component of it. They love the spreadsheets, or the analysis, or the keyword research.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. That’s not me. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Everybody is so different, and I think one of the key takeaways is how do you get as close as possible to the thing that is still valuable and that you love.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think sometimes people are like, “Find what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” which is true, unless what you love doing isn’t valuable, and then it’s going to be hard to justify the work, and time, and effort that you put into it. But I think what you’ve done is you’ve worked hard and intentionally to craft the majority of your day to be the thing that you enjoy doing the most with the limited amount of time that you have, and you’ve brought on other very capable people to do the things that you aren’t as excited about, but that are still important.

Lisa Bass: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such an important takeaway. Does that feel accurate as a reflection of your story?

Lisa Bass: Yeah, that absolutely feels accurate.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Lisa Bass: Yeah, because I mean, it would make more sense probably monetarily to put all my eggs in the blogging basket, but I can only do it so long, you know, because I just-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Lisa Bass: I hate writing. Yeah, that’s exactly right. I spend the time doing the thing I really want to…

Bjork Ostrom: It would be monetarily more beneficial, except it wouldn’t because realistically, you do the thing, and then you get burnt out on it, and then you don’t sustain it.

Lisa Bass: Right. Absolutely. Yes. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So part of it, for us, is even… I was just on somebody else’s podcast yesterday, and we’re talking about the idea of starting a new thing. He’s like, “In the case of Pinch of Yum, you started Food Blogger Pro. Would there have been a scenario where it would’ve made more sense to just focus on Pinch of Yum?” It was the exact same thing where it’s like monetarily-

Lisa Bass: Probably. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Probably.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: But part of it is like how do we continue to show up, in your case, 7, 8, 9 years, in our case, 12, 13, 14 years, and the way that you do that is you get as close as possible to the thing that you can do every day and actually enjoy it.

Lisa Bass: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It might not be as monetarily beneficial, but it actually is because that’s the thing that keeps you…

Lisa Bass: Because it’s what kept you going.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Exactly.

Lisa Bass: Yeah, and I know people who are… I have blogger friends who just enjoy, at the end of the day, getting on Google Analytics, and looking at things, and tracking other bloggers. So, for them, the whole game of blogging is so fun, but that is not my personality. So, for me, I lay at night in bed thinking about videos, and shots, and different things I could make and create. So I’m driven by the fact that it’s literally fun for me. So, like you said, it is monetarily beneficial because it kept pushing me along all the time, and it gave me the starting point to hire out people to do the things that I just cannot stand.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s awesome. I know, Lisa, you also have some content where you talk about blogging, where you talk about business. A lot of places that people can connect with you and follow with you along with you online. Can you do a quick shout-out, maybe mention some of the resources you have, and then also mention some of the places that people can follow along with you, so after this podcast, they can stay connected?

Lisa Bass: Yeah. So farmhouseonboone.com is where I have… Like you said, I have some business resources. There’s a Blog Master class. I have all my sourdough recipes. So that is the main bread and butter over there on the blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Literally.

Lisa Bass: Then, you can find me on Farmhouse on Boone on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and then I also have a podcast called Simple Farmhouse Life.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great. We’ll link to those as well. Lisa, thanks so much for coming on. Super fun to talk to you.

Lisa Bass: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Emily Walker: Hello there. Emily here from The Food Blogger Pro Team. We hope you enjoyed listening to this week’s episode of the podcast. Before we sign off today, I wanted to mention one of the most valuable parts of The Food Blogger Pro membership, and that’s our courses. In case you don’t already know, as soon as you become a Food Blogger Pro member, you immediately get access to all of our courses here on Food Blogger Pro. We have hours and hours of courses available, including SEO for food blogs, food photography, Google Analytics, social media, and sponsored content.

All of these courses have been recorded by The Food Blogger Pro Team or some of our industry experts, and they’re truly a wealth of knowledge. We are always updating our courses so you can rest assured that you’re getting the most up-to-date information as you’re working to grow your blog and your business. You can get access to all of our courses by joining Food Blogger Pro. Just head to foodbloggerpro.com/join to learn more about the membership and join our community. Thanks again for tuning in and listening to the podcast. Make it a great week.

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