156: Building a Healthy Blog and a Healthy Life with Liz Della Croce

Welcome to episode 156 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork chats with Liz Della Croce about balance, health, and focus.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork talks about important ways to overcome blogger burnout. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Building a Healthy Blog and a Healthy Life

Running your blog as a business takes a lot of balance. Especially if you have a well-rounded approach to health in mind.

Between her journey through weight loss to growing her blog into a profitable business, Liz has figured out how to keep a healthy balance in both her personal and professional lives. You’ll learn about her work processes, her approach to balance, and how she prioritizes her work in this interview. Enjoy!

In this episode, Liz shares:

  • How she started her blog
  • Her advice for exercise
  • How to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Why she focuses on one task at a time
  • How she prioritizes her work

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


Bjork Ostrom: In this interview, we chat with Liz Della Croce about maintaining a healthy lifestyle bother personally and with your business. And I’m gonna share a tip about looking at the dark corners of your website.

Hey everybody this is Bjork Ostrom, you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I am so excited to share with you this interview with Liz Della Croce. But before we get into that, I’m gonna share a quick tip. As you know, the tip of the week, what we call the tasty tip, is brought to you each week by WP Tasty, which is the go-to place for bloggers that are running on WordPress, and want to optimize different areas of their site. If you go to WPTasty.com, you can check out the three different plug-ins that we have that thousands, now thousands of bloggers are using to create a better site. In regards to traffic, both from google and Pinterest, and also as well as links.

We have a new plug-in called Tasty Links, which allows you to link a key word anywhere on your site. We also have Tasty Recipes for all you food bloggers. Which is a lot of people that listen to this podcast. And Tasty Pins, which allows you to optimize your images on your WordPress site. For both Pinterest and search.

And every week of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, we have a Tasty Tip, which features a little tip that you can implement, that will help you build your business, or will help you in general. Sometimes it’s not business related, sometimes it’s just a mindset or an idea.

And today’s Tasty Tip, is about examining the dark corners of your business. Specifically your business website or your blog. And what do I mean by that? Well, we’ve been going through and updating for GDPR. And if you don’t know what GDPR is, you can go back and listen to the interview that we did with Daniel Liss from Hashtag Legal, talking about this big change that’s happening as the European Union changes some of their rules. And one of the things that made up do that, required us to do, is think about all of the different services that we use on our website. And we’ve been doing this long enough where, I don’t have a running list of things that we use.

So I had to think. Okay, I had to sit down and create a list, but even then, I don’t know if I got to everything, so I used two different sites to examine the unexposed deep dark corners of the website, and they’re not bad things. A lot of times you say the dark corners, like it’s a bad thing, but it’s kind of the place that hasn’t had light on it for a while, so you don’t remember that it’s there. It’s that service or thing that you integrated into your website that you are maybe using still, or maybe not suing.

But in general, you’ve just kind of forgot about it. And so I used these two different services. One is called Built With, and you can go to buildwith.com. And the other is called Similar Tech, and that is at similartech.com. And these two services do a similar thing, where they show you the different services and apps and integrations that are running on a website. Now the cool thing about this, is you can look up the information for your own website if you need to double check, and that’s what we used it for. But it’s also a really cool thing that you can do to look at other people. So if you’re curious, hey, there’s a blogger that you really like, or that you’re interested in, you think they have a really good business. And you wanna see what are they running on their website? You can use Built With, and Similar Tech to do a little analysis and to learn about that website. Both other people’s website, and as we used it, you can learn about your website as well. If there’s some things that you maybe forgot that you’re running.

Now, one of the things that you can do, is you can actually remove service that you no longer need. So maybe you have something on your site, it’s running in the background, and it’s taking up resources. Maybe it’s slowing down your site a little bit. You can use these services to remind yourself about that, and remove it if you don’t need it anymore. So builtwith.com, and similartech.com, check those out, you can learn about your site and other sites as well. And that is the Tasty Tip for this week.

All right, for the pod cast interview today, we are talking to Liz Della Croce, and she’s gonna be talking about living healthy lifestyle. And not only what it means to live a healthy lifestyle personally, but also how that translates into being a business owner, and to building a blog. And how important it is to maintain that healthy lifestyle across the board. And for a lot of you that have been doing this, you know it’s a lot of work, you know that you have to work really hard, and you know that you have to put in some long days, but also you have to balance that to make it sustainable. And Liz is gonna talk about how she’s done that through the years. So let’s go ahead and jump in to the interview.

Liz? Welcome to the podcast.

Liz Della Croce: Thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’m excited to be chatting about what I consider to be a really, really important topic. And this was actually one, as we were going back and forth, and talking about what we could chat about, this was one of the suggestions you made. This idea of living a healthy lifestyle. And we’re going to talk about that wholistically. Such an important topic for bloggers and business owners. But before we do that, one of the things we love to do is rewind the tape a little bit, and hear about the story for those who aren’t familiar with you and your business and your blog. And one of the things I would love to hear a little bit about Liz, is before a blog, you had started another journey that kind of coincided with your blog. This journey of healthy living and exercise and eating intentionally. So if you could take us back B B, before blog, and talk about kicking that off, and then how the blog coincided with that?

Liz Della Croce: Sure, absolutely. So basically back in 2006, I was a newlywed. I was 25 years old, and working full time in the hospitality industry, so I have a hotel sales background. So I was working for Marriott, in a regional sales office, had a great husband, great job with Marriott, the number one hotel company. Everything was good, I was really happy, but long story short, I saw a photo of myself from a wedding, and I simply just did not like how I looked. And that’s something that’s interesting, that you can be very healthy by the numbers, but still not necessarily feel your best. That was really what made me want to make some permanent changes as far as losing weight essentially.

Literally I just googled, I think a googled, food diary or online food tracker. And from there I started using a program which I still use today, just called myfooddiary.com. It’s similar to weight watchers, except you’re tracking calories not points. And then really it’s as simple as tracking my calories every day, and making sure I was not eating more than I was burning. So that I had a deficit to lose about a pound a week. So that’s really where it all started. And that was also the first time I started actually exercising regularly. So I really was not active for the first 25 years of my life.

Bjork Ostrom: And so that was in 2006 you said?

Liz Della Croce: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, got it. So, in terms of exercise, healthy eating, tell me some of the things that you talk about now. You had had a few years of doing that before starting your blog in 2010. Did that tie into this journey that you were on in healthy living? And as we get into it, we’re gonna talk about healthy living wholistically, not just with eating and exercise. But curious to know, what was the reason for starting the blog.

Liz Della Croce: So I ended up losing, after about a couple years, I lost about 40 pounds initially. And whenever you lost a bunch of weight, people wanna know what you’re eating and what you’re doing. Everyone wants to know how you lost the weight. I’ve been cooking my entire life. I’m surrounded by a lot of amazing cooks on all sides of my family, so I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life, and what happens when you’re just kind of an inherent cook, is that you don’t really write down recipes, or follow recipes. But [crosstalk 00:08:38] you make things taste good. So a blog was really the best way for me to show other people how to cook the food that I was making. It really forced me to learn how to recipe test, and how to write a recipe that others could follow and end up with that same dish. And that was really a way to document what I was eating, and what I was doing. And so I also write about different healthy habits as far as fitness that type of thing, nutrition, why I wanna eat whole foods not processed food.

So the blog is really just the best way for me to help people that were asking what I was doing, because otherwise it was too hard to really explain in a quick phone call or if you’re meeting in first person.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. I think there’s a really important takeaway with that, and that is, this idea of the market. And we talk about that in kind of broad terms, but essentially it was your community, you could view that as a market. And are you trying to push something on them? Or are they trying to pull something out of you? And for podcast listeners, I think that’s an important take away. Think about what you are doing. And are you trying to push that, or is there a pull?Are you creating something that people are asking you about that they wanna know more about? Food Blogger Pro for us, was that. We had a lot of people in the same situation that were asking about it, so I was like, “Okay, let’s see if we can create a solution to this thing that people are trying to pull from us.” Instead of trying to say, I have a good idea, I’m going to try and push this on people. So when you started it did you have this intent of, “Hey, I wanna build this into a business. This is going to be my job.”

Liz Della Croce: That’s such a great point. Of course, as you probably know, this was not a job back then. Maybe it was, but I wasn’t aware of it. So certainly back then, that was not my intention, even in the slightest. For many more years to come by the way. So it really was a matter of just purely wanting to. You know I’m a very passionate excited person, so I was just really pumped up about it, and excited. I love to share, and teach, and coach, so it was just very natural to me. I was feeling really happy and good, and I really want others to feel that way too. So that was just my way to help other people, and show them “Hey look, I didn’t work out for 25 years, if I can do this, you can do this too.” I don’t love to work out. I’m not a natural athlete. There’s no one really athletic and super thing on my family on either side. So I don’t really even have that DNA advantage. It was just me being like, hey look, you can do it too. Just wanting to kind of encourage people.

But no, this was no intended to be a business. That is something that is so different now, is that people see that that can happen. Back then I didn’t have. It might have been a business for some people, but I didn’t know anybody doing it. For many years to come.

Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense. And before we get too far away from it, I’m curious to know, and I’m sure other people are as well. If you were to say to somebody listening, hey if you are going to start your journey to being healthier physically by what you eat, and through exercise, what would your advice be to them? So somebody that would maybe be in a similar situation to where you were. Where they haven’t exercised before, and they wanna kind of make a change, and shift things a little bit. How would you encourage that individual?

Liz Della Croce: I think I’d give two pieces of advice. One for the exercise side, one for the nutrition side. Because it is two part. I would say, as far as exercise, find something you enjoy doing. So that you want to do it versus doing something just because that magazine says “You should be running every day on the treadmill.” So for me, it was group exercise, I loved that group atmosphere, the music, the instructors, were very motivational.

So that was what worked for me, I found that group atmosphere to work, but it could be tennis, it could be running with a friend around the lake nearby. Find what you like to do, and play around till you find it, because then what happens is, you’re going to look forward to that workout, because of how good it felt. And I think that if you don’t like something you’re not going to keep doing it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s such a good reminder, but it’s so true, that makes sense.

Liz Della Croce: I know, none of it’s like rocket science, but I think that when you’re just starting off. For me, it was like, “I gotta go on the elliptical for an hour.” But that was boring for me.

Another thing too, this is advice for people that wanna make a longterm change. Not just for like a short term goal. I really want people to live a long term healthy life.

On the nutrition side, my best advice, would be to take it one day at a time, and then think long term. So I’m a big fan of finding ways to live a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy diet you can maintain for longer periods of time. So things like Whole 30, or super intense programs like Paleo Diet, or fasting. While those things are successful for many people, they’re very rigid. And in general humans don’t have that type of self control, or long term … That’s hard. Don’t make it hard on yourself, make it easy on yourself.

So for me, what I like about programs that I use, were any food counts, it allows for real life. ’Cause here’s what’s going to happen, one day you’re going to go to a birthday party, there’s gonna and cake, one day your kid’s gonna want you to go out for ice cream with him, or you’re gonna have to eat dinner at a certain time, and you can’t fast half the day, or a friends gonna have a bachelorette party, whatever it might be, the thing is that with life, is that you’re not always eating at home where you can control everything. So I like the idea, again I’m talking about long term weigh loss, keep off forever. I like the idea of not eliminating entire food groups, only because that’s hard to do for the rest of your life.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s something about the sustainability of what you’re doing. We talk about that as it relates to creating a business or a blog, or brand, or whatever you’d wanna call it. And how you can do these short sprints, and you can work the comparable in the blog space, you can work 16 hour days for short sprints. But it’s also important to think about what you are you gonna be able to do over a long period of time. Five years, six years, seven, years, 10 years, because so often it takes a long period of time and commitment. Showing up every day, and not being perfect. You’re not going for 100% but just long-term commitment on a … focusing in on one thing over a long period of time and the impact that that can have.

So, let’s do this now. We talked a little bit about your story, about your background, and we’re gonna be talking about healthy living today, which we talked about kind of a section of that, but if we expand up beyond that. When you think of healthy living and a healthy lifestyle, as it relates to you living life as a blogger, having a family, what does that look like? How would you define healthy lifestyle?

Liz Della Croce: Sure. So, I think this is where it’ll vary based on your priorities, your goals in life, probably your upbringing. All sorts of different things. For me, it’s about having a balance between what’s important to me. Of course, my family, of course. My career’s important to me. My friends are really important to me, and then my health is really important to me. Those are the four things that I’m constantly trying to juggle and balance and it takes a conscious effort to do that because … A good example with us is that many of us, and many of your listeners, we do what we do because it’s a passion and we love to do it. Unlike a desk job where you, A, might not love it, B, you leave the building at the end of each day, it’s hard … you could … I mean, I could work all day on The Lemon Bowl. I love what I do. I love to cook. I love every aspect of my business so I could potentially do that for hours and hours on end, but that’s not healthy.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and the interesting thing is, even though it’s something that you enjoy and you wanna be doing, that doesn’t always mean that doing it is a healthy thing. Do you have an example of what that looks like? When you say I could do it all day, but it’s not necessarily a healthy thing, what does that look like, that battle as you’re trying to figure that out in the real life?

Liz Della Croce: Absolutely. Let’s see here. One aspect of my job that I love is I do travel writing. I write wellness travel stories. I try to encourage people to … I wanna show people that you can travel a lot and still maintain your healthy lifestyle. I like to show them ways to travel and still eat all the great food, but stay active while you travel and I love that side of my business. I could research destinations or plan those trips or research different activities or recreational offering all day long. But at the end of the day, I also really need to make time to work out every day. I need to make time to spend time with my two little kids every day. I need to make time to spend with my husband.

It’s kind of one of those things where in the longterm, the business … like they always say, who’s gonna be at your bedside in the hospital? It’s kind of that mentality of … for me, I want to make time to have lunch with a friend or to call a friend or to see a friend. The thing of it is though is you have to make time for these things. Same thing with like making time to cook a healthy dinner. I know so many bloggers that cook all day, but then they literally are eating cookies out of a box for their own dinner.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Liz Della Croce: And trust me, it’s happened to all of us. I don’t do cookies on my blog but it would be something equivalently bad for me like hummus dip or something.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, for sure.

Liz Della Croce: Like I totally get it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Liz Della Croce: But I think that’s why you have to plan ahead and be intentional because it isn’t going to just automatically happen.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and so when you say make time for things, and I think people can relate to that. It’s friends. It’s family. It’s self-care.

Liz Della Croce: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think we would all agree, hey, it’s important to make time for these things and yet it’s such a hard thing to do. If somebody is listening and they’re like, “Man, I know that I need to make time for these things,” what does that look like in a really concrete way? How do you do that successful? And while also … and I think this is the key and the hard thing … while also working really hard on your business.

Liz Della Croce: Correct. And so here’s a big point I wanna make, and I learned this many, many years ago at a food conference when … from [inaudible 00:19:29] Kitchen, when she was speaking about how you define success. And one thing that she, basically, pointed out to me is that, obviously, money isn’t the only definition of success and so whereas we all love what we do and like I’m very business-orientated, as I’m sure many of your listeners if they’re listening to this type of podcast … it can be so intriguing to wanna invest all your time on growing your business and, of course, growing your assets, growing financially your wealth.

But for me, that’s a good example of like … for example, the travel side of my blog is not the most lucrative side of my blog but it is the most … as far as money, cash … but it’s the most lucrative to me as far as the reward I get from travel. Same thing with like making time to work out. Again, it might be more intriguing to wanna work on a business project or make a pitch for something because you’re looking for that. You know, growing your business and the wealth. But investing in your body is gonna pay off equally as well. Again, I guess we all do define success differently but, for me, I think that a successful person isn’t going to be defined by their bank account.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. One of the things that Lindsay and I sometimes talk about … and this came from when I was walking at the nonprofit that I was at, and somebody came and spoke from Target Corporate and he was an executive at Target Corporate, and he said, “One of the things that’s most important for you to realize is the massive amount of emotional income that you receive from this job.” It introduced to me a different use of the word income.

Liz Della Croce: Correct.

Bjork Ostrom: And so when we think about what we do to like kind of neutralize that word income and remove it from money, we think about emotional income, physical income, relational income.

Liz Della Croce: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s career income, but all of those things are different types of income, and one of the hard things about what we do is that we live and work in a space that has very tangible metrics around certain types of income or stats like statistics and metrics. Whereas like your connection to your significant other has no metric other than how are you generally feeling about it, and so I think it’s a really important point that you make, in that we need to consider kind of those other spokes of the wheel and make sure that none of them get too bad in order to have it be a bumpy ride, but that’s really hard to do. When you look at a week or you look at a month and you look at the amount of time you have, how do you go about scheduling that? Are you saying, “Hey, any time my family calls, I pick up the phone, any friend related lunch I always take”? Or are your selective in scheduling that? How do you fit in workouts? What does that look like?

Liz Della Croce: Right. For me, one thing that I do is I work … I really do try to work really efficiently, and I’ve built in different systems that allow me to work efficiently so that I have the time freed up to do things like get to the gym, make time for social activities, make time for my kid’s T-ball game, et cetera, et cetera. And so, for example, I do everything … I’ve been doing things in batches for a long time now.

For example, I hired a photographer about three years ago and we photograph all of our recipes for the blog in two days a month. That’s just one example of like a practical way that has helped me free up time, whereas before I was photographing much more sporadically and much more frequently and that was less efficient. Additionally, because when you’re batch working you’re already in that mood … and you know this, and I feel like it’s more common these days, but-

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Liz Della Croce: When you’re in the mode of cooking, it’s a lot easier to cook six recipes in a day versus if you’re doing it here and there, you’ve gotta get everything out, get everything ready. You’re checking emails in between. You’re less efficient. I, for example, write all of my blog posts for the week in one afternoon. Now, again, I’m not editing the photos so that … again, I’ve created these small systems to help me with that, so that I can have that time freed up. Another thing that I do is when I am working on certain tasks, I don’t stop to check social media. I don’t stop to respond to emails. I really wait to complete that task at hand.

A blog post has come into my mind because that’s something that I do pretty commonly, but it could be going through a really big contract for a client or … Even if it’s something like conference calls with clients, if I have to have a bunch of calls in a week, I try to do them all in one day or … you know what I mean? And that way I’m not breaking up five days of the week. It’s just one day is pretty much … one day is focused to those calls. It’s all about blocking out time and doing things in chunks like that. I think that’s really helpful.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, they talk about task switching and how impactful that is, and when I say ‘they’, I don’t know who they is but I just know in general this idea of task switching being such a hard thing to do efficiently. It’s hard to switch and do something … whether that be if you use Slack, which is something that we use internally. Somebody asks a question. You’re in the middle of something, you switch. There’s kind of this on ramp into that task and then an off ramp into another task as you wind that one day. But what does that look like for you … social media, email, that stuff is really easy to get distracted by and to … I’m just gonna check real quick. That kind of thing.

Liz Della Croce: Right, right.

Bjork Ostrom: So, do you have to log out? Are you using any special type of app that says, “Hey, when this is open, nothing else is running in the background,” or what does that look like?

Liz Della Croce: The only thing I do is I have the notifications turned off on my iPhone. I don’t do anything too crazy. I know there are some amazing apps and things out there, like websites that you can turn off getting onto Facebook. I’ll admit I have pretty good self control, which also I think helped me lose weight. Like I can turn down a brownie. So, I just wanna be upfront, I do have decent self control but there are so many tools that will literally like … you can set times to be able to access Facebook.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Liz Della Croce: The other thing I was telling you before is now I have kids … like even right now, I’m paying a sitter to watch my kids right now, so when you’re paying someone by the clock, I think maybe that’s my inspiration not to go on social media. Because I … I don’t wanna be working in front of them-

Bjork Ostrom: There’s a correct cost to it. Yeah.

Liz Della Croce: Right. It’s like direct incentive. Here’s the other thing is I only have a sitter four hours a day. I don’t typically work before noon. I typically only work from noon to 4:00. So, for example, I schedule … Because you had asked as well how does that look like for making time.

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Liz Della Croce: One thing I do every Sunday is I add my workouts for the week to my calendar, just like it’s a podcast interview. Just like it’s a doctor’s appointment. Just like it’s anything else very important. That workout is equally important to me and I will protect that time so fiercely, just like I would protect something else important to me. I think, at the end of the day, everybody makes time for what’s important to them.

Unfortunately, what that means is that you have to take responsibility for your health, which is tough, because we love to find other people to blame, and I’m not inventing this idea. I listen to a lot of [inaudible 00:27:33] podcasts. I think that that’s the thing with your health. The only one that’s going to take care of your health is you. Not your boss, not your employer, not your sister, not your brother. No one else can do that. Again, to make it easy for me, I literally just make an appointment in my calendar and it’s in there and then that way I make it easy for myself. I don’t have to think about it each day.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that’s great, and I think to tie that into your thought on batching, it sounds like what you do is sit down and say, “Okay, this week, when is this gonna happen?” You’re taking this kind of holistic high level look at your week and saying, “What does it look like and how can I fit in the most important things?” I’m in the middle of reading this book called Getting Things Done.

Liz Della Croce: Oh, cool.

Bjork Ostrom: And, actually, just watched a course on Lynda as well and he talks about this idea of the weekly review and it sounds like that’s kind of one of the things that you’re doing is this like fitness weekly review, where you say, “Okay, where is this stuff gonna fit in and how is this gonna be a part of my week?” I think people don’t use their calendar as much as they could. It’s such a valuable resource to be able to build around and to place your priorities and to schedule those priorities.

Liz Della Croce: Yeah, absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: So, one of the things that you had talked about was this idea of a shorter day. You have somebody who’s coming and you have a sitter from 12:00 to 4:00. You have this limited amount of time. You’re not gonna go and check out Instagram, even if they just released a new app and it’s Instagram TV and it’s all that everybody’s talking about it. You’re sitting down. You’re doing your work. And my guess is that you have some clarity around the things that are most important and you prioritize those things. What are those things that you prioritize in that block of time that you have?

Liz Della Croce: Sure. So, I do use my calendar for my day every day. Even my husband and I use it on the weekends for personal things, and that’s just our way to … to your point, of using that calendar to your advantage and it avoids a lot of that downtime of trying to figure out what to do. Typically, I will use my calendar … for example, of course, the basic things like conference calls and things like that. I will only schedule them through the hours of noon and 4:00. I’ll also do the same thing with blog posts. This brings up a good point. I do a lot …so, when I first had my kids I polled a bunch of working at home moms. I wrote a blog post about working from home with small kids because a lot of bloggers have kids, they have lots of kids. Many of them have four or six kids so I was like what are they doing. My friend Amelia with Eating Made Easy made this great tip, point to me, about reactive work verses proactive work. So for example, reactive work would be responding to emails or responding to a Slack question, you’re responding to stuff verses, and I don’t know if proactive is the right word, but you’re not responding you’re actually doing work. For example, creating content, creating a blog post, creating photography, creating whatever it is that you create. A pod cast episode, whatever it is. And basically batching those up. For example if you are working around your kids do the reactive stuff then.

But I was leading into was that I also work at least one afternoon a weekend. And the reason that weekends are great because guess what doesn’t happen on weekends? No one’s emailing you. So most people I work with, whether it’s my clients or my employers or different colleagues, most people aren’t reaching out to me on the weekends. So I do a lot of my writing and content creation on the weekends when I’m not going to get interrupted with an urgent need or a contract that needs to be signed. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, it’s a calmer time where there’s less likelihood of those interruptions coming in.

Liz Della Croce: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: I’ve heard people talk about that too, some people that try to get into that important work early in the day or maybe later in the evening where it’s a little bit quieter. And they know that the likelihood of being interrupted is a lot smaller because people aren’t going to be doing work at that time. Or most people aren’t going to be. That makes a lot of sense.

So, let’s say that you were to go back to the beginning of when you were starting your site and building things up. What would you do a little bit differently? Would there be things that you would change in terms of the approach that you have now versus the approach that you had when you first started, knowing that you have some clarity around the things that are most important, and the things that you want to prioritize?

Liz Della Croce: Sure. It’s funny, when I get asked this question I always say I wouldn’t do anything different because I think that’s really how you learn the best. But that’s not very helpful is it. So, I think the biggest thing that I did about two years in was creating a content calendar, which is so obvious. But that was a big thing that really did help me become less sporadic as far as in my content [inaudible 00:32:54]. Just kind of setting that schedule of when you’re publishing content and the set time. So I think that’s the biggest thing. And then beyond that I would say obviously it would have been great if I had hired a photographer and worked in batches sooner. That would have been amazing. But things cost money and you can’t always do all that right away. So there’s something to be said for slow, organic growth.

But people are going a lot faster these days so I would say I encourage people to enlist help. So another things for example is I have a social media coordinator. That is something that I’m so glad I started doing that many years ago. That would be something to start sooner also. Basically, look at where your genius zone, my zone of genius I call it. And what really needs your inherent skills and abilities. And what really needs your expertise and where do you really shine. Then the other areas of the business, enlist help. And that could even be free help from your spouse to start.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, and just out of curiosity, what is that for you? And what are the things that you’ve brought other people in to help with?

Liz Della Croce: My creative genius zone is recipe development and cooking. I love to cook so that’s for sure it. The other side would be I love interacting with my clients and establishing relationships. I love the whole client interaction so I for example would not ever want to hire- at least no time soon- an agent. I really like building those relationships. That’s probably because of my sales background, that type of thing. I really like that client communications and I love content [inaudible 00:34:36] as far as recipe development, things like that.

And I also love leading a team and I love teaching and that type of thing. I love managing others so I hired- I have a social media coordinator, she handles the social media scheduling, engaging with the Facebook community, Pinterest management, things like that. And then graphics and video editing, she does that also because those are areas that I’m not … I don’t love to edit videos, I don’t love to design graphics, and I don’t love to schedule a pin.

And here’s the other thing too. I used to do all of those things to be clear, but when I had kids I decided I would rather spend time with my kids from 6:00am to noon every day than rush to my desk to schedule the tweets out, to schedule the Facebook posts.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and that was going to be one of the questions that I wanted to ask you to hear your thoughts on because as we talk about healthy lifestyle, it’s contrasted with this phrase that exists in the world of hustle as it relates to building a business. And I think sometimes those come head-to-head, healthy lifestyle versus hustle. For people that have been doing this as long as we have, which is around the same time, kind of 2010-ish. I think we have the ability in a way that other people who are just starting don’t have, in that we can talk about healthy lifestyle because we did have a phase of hustle where maybe things weren’t as healthy.

At least I feel like that’s true for myself. Where there’s many, many years- I suppose that’s relative- I would say two to four years, kind of varying, where I was working a lot at odd hours on weekends and had another job. We didn’t have kids but it was still this hustle idea that allowed us to get to a point where we can bring people on to help and live more of what would be a healthy lifestyle or more of a normal lifestyle. So, do you feel like that existed for you, do you think there’s truth in that, or do you think if you’re starting out you can still have this healthy lifestyle if you are intentional?

Liz Della Croce: Okay, I’m so glad you asked that because I remember when I was just starting I would get so frustrated at conferences because all these bloggers would give all these ideas. And to your point they were based on where they’re at. And it is very different depending on your stage. So here’s my thing, I was living a lifestyle when I just started because that was really, again I just lost a bunch of weight after my first kid- I lost 20 pounds, more to make it a 60 pound total weight loss. So I was working really hard. But here’s the thing that I did that might be a little bit different than others who are listening, potentially.

I am not a huge … I’m not really looking to race anyone to the finish line. I am okay, I don’t know that I’m the biggest hustler. I’m not going to say that I don’t work hard or that I’m not business minded or I don’t want my business to grow. But I’m looking to race anyone to the finish so I had very slow growth. I was never looking to become a huge blogger, or whatever that means. I was never looking to get to a certain point. I really encouraged people to enjoy the ride. I want that to really stand out. Enjoy the ride, enjoy where you’re at now. Don’t constantly think, if I get x, y, or z, then I’ll be happy. Or I reach that-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Liz Della Croce: The thing of it is, you need to enjoy every stage of it because every stage has its own problems. Issues that I had at the beginning I don’t have. For example, I can afford a photographer now. That’s wonderful but at the end of the day I’m also managing another person. There’s more work to that. So there’s pros and cons to every level. I remember having my first contract, and it was with three different activations, and I was freaked out, but I was going to get something. Now I have a million contracts, now I have so much work and a million deadlines, and a million contracts. The thing of it is, you just enjoy where you’re at and trust that you will grow as your business grows. Your capacity to take on more work overall, your capacity to take on more day to day issues will grow. But don’t try to force it. Don’t try to push it, don’t try to race it. And the same things goes for weight loss. You got to just trust the process, be patient and enjoy the ride.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think that’s great and I think it’s a really important mind set to have as you think about life in general can be applied to many different things. The idea of showing up every day and feeling like the things that you are doing are sustainable and enjoyable. And there will absolutely be times when there will be sprints, and it will be hard, and it will be difficult. But as much as possible finding ways to make your day to day sustainable and enjoyable. And I think what you said is so important, this idea of not trying to race to the finish line because there isn’t one. It just goes on-

Liz Della Croce: Spoiler alert.

Bjork Ostrom: It does on forever and like you said it’s not like you ever get to a point where then problems go away. They will always be there. And in someways they’ll just be amplified, and your responsibilities become more so enjoy the process. And enjoy yourself as you walk through that journey.

Liz Della Croce: I remember reading once, someone that said these are the good old days, well guess what, so these are the good old days.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, yes for sure.

Liz Della Croce: You’re going to look back and be those were the good old-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Liz Della Croce: Well, guess what, we’re in the good old days right now.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, there’s that country song Remember When. Do you know that?

Liz Della Croce: No.

Bjork Ostrom: We did … I forget, there’s going to be people that know it right away. It’s an Alan Jackson song that we did with our team. We were what’s the one song that you remember and that one came up. This was a few years back. But that one came up, I was like oh remember when. So we’ll link to that in the show now. It’s a song for everybody to check out but it’s kind of that idea.

Liz I feel like that’s a great note to end on and really inspiring for people that are listening and a good reminder. Before we go though, can you tell people where they can connect with you and find you online?

Liz Della Croce: Absolutely. You can find me anywhere at The Lemon Bowl, any social media platform or [email protected]. Say hi.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice, yep, makes it easy. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast Liz.

Liz Della Croce: Thanks for having me.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, hey lovely listeners, Alexa here bringing you the reviewer of the week. And this one comes from Bet, from betondinner.com. And it says my food blog is still pretty new and more of a fun hobby than anything. I have two young kids and the thought of being able to make an income from writing and cooking seems too good to be true. I love that this podcast has valuable ideas and encouragement for someone like me who is in the beginning. It’s just a dream learning curve phase but that it gives me a window into this whole business side of blogging. I love to learn and it’s been awesome to be able to do that by listening while I fold laundry, during nap time or if I’m in the car all by myself. Thanks.

Well thank you Bet, that was such a great review. And for anyone listening if you would like to get your name and blog featured in this section of an upcoming episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast, all you need to do is leave a review on iTunes. Go to iTunes, search for the Food Blogger Pro podcasts and then leave a review for us. We would love to see what you think. Thank you again for tuning in this week. We appreciate you so much and from all of us here at FBPHQ, make it a great week.

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