Another week, another episode! We hope you’ve been enjoying the FBP podcast so far. We’ve sure had fun making it! Today’s episode features Beth Moncel from the awesome food blog Budget Bytes.
Last week, Bjork interviewed Beth (so many Beths!) from Entertaining with Beth. They really got down to the details of YouTube – from what the heck a multi-channel network is to how you can get yourself found on YouTube. If you want to go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Making the Leap to Full-Time Blogging
So many of us hope and dream that one day we could make blogging our full-time job. Well, Beth was once one of us, but now she’s actually living the dream! However, this didn’t just magically happen. Instead, Beth did a slow transition from corporate to self-employed, and it made the switch a little less stressful.
In this inspiring episode, Beth reveals:
- What it was like transitioning from her day job to working for herself
- How she got started on her blog
- Why she switched from Blogger to WordPress and how it affected her blog
- How she managed her time while working full time and running her blog simultaneously
- How social media has contributed to her success
- Her top 5 tools she couldn’t live without
- The one thing she wishes she did sooner
- How she is planning on getting into video
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes:
- Budget Bytes
- Blogger platform
- Yoast SEO plugin
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Google Analytics
- Budget Bytes Twitter
- Budget Bytes Pinterest
- Budget Bytes Facebook
- Budget Bytes Instagram
- – foodbloggerpro.com/beth
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 11 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Hello everybody, my name is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. What is this podcast all about anyways? Well, we interview people that are creating food related content and they are publishing it online and today is no exception because we are chatting with Beth Moncel, the blogger behind budgetbytes.com which as you may be would imagine is a budget friendly food blog and it’s going to be an awesome interview.
I know that a lot of people enjoy interviews like this because they are success stories of people that have taken their blog and transitioned it into their full time job and Beth is going to talk about what that was like for her over the past few years as she built Budget Bytes. Without further ado, let’s jump in Beth, welcome to the podcast.
Beth Moncel: Hi.
Bjork Ostrom: How’re you doing?
Beth Moncel: Good. Thanks.
Bjork Ostrom: Good. Hey, I’m really excited to have you on Beth. We’ve followed along with your journey as you have built your blog over the past few years and we’ve interacted a little bit on Food Blogger Pro but I’m really excited to jump on a call here and talk to you in person. The first thing that I want to know. I want you to go back to that day when it was the first day that you woke up and it was a day where you weren’t going into your job, your new job was working on your blog. When was that and what was that like?
Beth Moncel: That was probably last Fall maybe August or September. I made a slow transition. I went from working full time at a hospital laboratory down to a few days or months. I hung on to it a little bit for security purposes. Just let them freak out. It’s lucky to get out of the house a little bit every once in a while and have a smoother transition but last September probably I started working mostly from home and it felt really good I have to admit. Nothing beats waking up on your own schedule and working in your pajamas so it was a good time.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That was the same way that we did it at least for me. I was working at a nonprofit and it was this ultra slow transition where it was like 80-20 where I was taking a couple of days to work on our blog and the website and then it was like 60-40, 50-50, 40-60 and then it was a couple days a month. We’re very similar and that way we’re pretty conservative in how we transitioned into working on full time which I think is really smart. Was that an intentional decision or was that in terms of transitioning into the blog or do you feel like that was just naturally how it went or … I really want to work on my blog but I want to take it slow and transition out slow?
Beth Moncel: I guess it was intentional. I tend to be a really cautious person in general. My blog is budget based because I used to be very, very poor so I’m super cautious when it comes to money and I just really wanted to make sure all of my ducks were in a row before I let go of that job. That’s a career I can always go back at any time so I still have that safety net but it got to the point where I knew there was so much more potential with the blog as a career than the laboratory. At that point, I had to make that decision to put more of my energy into that than my other job.
Bjork Ostrom: I remember having that moment where I realized when we were working that no matter how hard we worked and no matter how many creative ideas we came up with, there’s limitations on that and you just don’t have that when you’re working on your own thing and if you have a post that’s viral like it’s a viral post and you get a lot of benefits from that but let’s say if you have a viral post when you’re working as a publisher for another company, it’s like they see all the benefit from that which isn’t bad especially if you’re doing important work like working at a medical lab or for us nonprofit …
Beth Moncel: Actually, I went through that same thing with freelance recently too because for a while I was also doing a lot of freelance work for other websites and I recently made the decision to stop doing that and focus more on my website because again, there’s so much more potential with my own work than there is with a flat rate fee freelance for other people so I might as well be putting as much energy as I can into my own project.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m interested a here a little bit Beth about that decision making process and that’s one thing that I think a lot of people struggle with. When do you make the switch to working on your blog? Obviously, there’s the finance decision and that’s probably one of the main ones but there are also other factors like, “Do I like working from home?” Or “Do I want to do that?” Or “What is it like to not have co-workers?” How did you go about making that decision and who are the people that you checked in with and how did you vet that decision as you knew that you wanted to move in that direction?
Beth Moncel: I think it’s something I always knew I wanted to do. I’m very entrepreneurial in nature. I’m really creative minded and I just love doing things on my own and I don’t really know if there’s anyone out there who wouldn’t want to work for themselves instead of for somebody else even just financially, there’s just so much more potential. It really wasn’t much something I had to really think about too deeply. Like I said, all I had to do was make sure that financially I was secure before I made that leap and then it was pretty much given. I just went for it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Good for you. Let’s go back a little bit. Let’s talk about your blog. What’s the story with your blog? I’d love to hear when it started, why you started it, share with those that aren’t familiar with your blog and your story.
Beth Moncel: Okay, sure. My blog is Budget Bytes and it started about six years ago. I had just graduated college and I wasn’t making a lot of money. I didn’t have a job in my field but I had all these loans to pay off just like half the other people in the country. I was freaking out a little bit because I knew that my way of living was not sustainable long-term and I knew I had a lot more potential just within myself to do something more so I was just looking for a project something to keep me busy while I figured out what the next step in life was going to be.
I didn’t have any money for hobbies so I decided why don’t I start a blog with this other project that I was doing which was challenging myself to live on less than $6 a day with food.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.
Beth Moncel: Yeah, because really my budget was really strapped. I didn’t spend money on anything. The only thing left was food that I had in the wiggle room so I gave myself that challenge and it was going pretty well and I was sharing it on my personal Facebook page with people and everyone seemed really interested so I was like, “Okay, why don’t I just put it out there in case there are other people in the world that might find it interesting?” I didn’t even know what a blog was but I thought it might be something interesting to look into so I just started googling how to start blog, all that stuff.
I started with Blogger which is really easy free platform. It pretty much took off immediately and as soon as we were getting feedback from people like, “Wow, this is really helpful. Thank you.” I knew that it could be something really big so I kept going with it and it provided me that creative outlet. Something was free to do. I had to spend no money on it. It was like the perfect project for me and it was interesting because it incorporated all these things for my past like photography or something I’ve been interested in since I was a small child.
When I was in high school, mid 90’s, I was really in to web design and learning HTML’s. I had a little bit of background in that too so it’s like I had all these little experiences that came together in the blogging world and it was like a perfect fit. I’ve just been doing it ever since building it slowly along the way.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s a lot of things that I want to dive into there. One of them is Blogger. Are you still on Blogger and if not, where are you right now?
Beth Moncel: No, I’m self-hosted right now using WordPress and I switched I think maybe two years ago, the last few years were kind of a blur but I think it’s been a couple of years and I switched to a self-hosted WordPress because it offered me more flexibility with site designed and things like SEO because I found Blogger a little bit limiting so I did that and I hired a designer to design, custom a template for me and she also migrated everything for me because that’s a really big scary job but she did a great job.
It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made over my blogging career.
Bjork Ostrom: We have a lot of members of Food Blogger Pro that have started out on Blogger which is great because it’s free and you can create a filter for yourself where you see, “Am I going to actually do this? Am I committed to this without having to pay any money?” Once you get to the point a lot of times with notice where people are like, “I’m doing this. I’m committed to it.” They realize, they want to switch over to WordPress. Did you notice any impact on your blog in terms of traffic or engagement or anything like that when you made the switch?
Beth Moncel: Oh yeah, definitely. Within a few months, my traffic really skyrocketed especially my Google search traffic. Before, it was a really small percentage of my total traffic and then it grew quite a bit after that. It’s a little bit lower now because most of my traffic comes from Pinterest but it’s still way more than it was before and I’m not sure exactly what that is attributed to but I think it’s just the more flexibility that you have with the SEO plugins. I don’t really have any solid evidence for that.
Bjork Ostrom: You use an SEO plugin on your WordPress blog?
Beth Moncel: Yeah mostly used SEO plugin.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, great. One of the other questions that I wanted to ask with the switch from Blogger to WordPress, when you did that, obviously, there’s a cost involved in hiring somebody having them set that up and handle that for you. How did you go through that process knowing that you’re budget minded, knowing that you also want to do it right. How did you go through that process and decide, “Hey, I want somebody to come on to do this versus maybe trying to figure it out on your own?”
Beth Moncel: It was a difficult decision because I really don’t know a lot about back-end workings with the website but what I did first was I looked around to find a designer whose style I liked and that took quite a while.
Bjork Ostrom: Was that just searching like going through Google and looking at footers of other blogs and …
Beth Moncel: Right, both of those so I would find blogs that I like the design of and scrolled on at the bottom see if they listed who their designer was and then I also did Google searches but I knew I had to hire someone to do the migration because I did not have the time to learn how to do it myself. I was working full time. The blogging thing was nearly full time at that point and I was not making a lot of money with the blog at that point either but I knew it was a pivotal step to allowing the blog to grow and I was maxed out with blogger in my opinion.
If I wanted it to go further, I had to put that money upfront to make it happen and it definitely paid off.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s good to hear. Yeah, like I said. We hear a lot from people on Food Blogger Pro or just emails that we get. People that are wondering should I make this switch and we’re always like, “Yes. 100%” It’s such a smart decision. Not that it’s bad to start on Blogger by any means, we started to interview them Tumblr and like I said it’s a free service so it makes sense but if you’re going to do it and if you’re going to commit to it, WordPress is always a great long term solution.
Beth Moncel: Yeah, and just for reference, there are a few blogs that are really big and they’re still on Blogger, they make it work but for me I found that I had more flexibility with WordPress than the self-hosted sites so I really … I’m glad I did that.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure and the other thing that’s important about it is WordPress has plugins for food bloggers that allow the recipes that you create to be formatted in a way that they can be recognized by Pinterest and Google that’s called schema markup so if you’re on Blogger, it’s really hard to do that. It’s possible but it’s really, really difficult so it’s just another one of those advantages with WordPress. You were working Beth on your blog for probably five years while also working full time …
Beth Moncel: And writing a book.
Bjork Ostrom: And writing. We hear from so many people and the struggle is time. It’s always about, “How do I fit this in? How do I make this happen?” I’m interested how you did that. How you worked a full time job, how you wrote a book, how you did a blog, all of that stuff while also staying sane or maybe … More or maybe you didn’t stay sane. Maybe that was the fuse that dropped.
Beth Moncel: Hashtag, the struggle is real. It was really tough and there wasn’t a period of time there were I thought I was going to lose my mind but I’m naturally one of those people that is better at time management the more I have on my plate. It worked out to my advantage doing both at the same time. I definitely have a harder time getting things done now but because of the photography aspect, I had to do all of my cooking and photography on days that I was not working in a lab because I had to do it in the middle of the day.
I knew that at least one day a week I was going to be cooking and photographing. Sometimes it was too much to also edit the photos and write the post on the same day so I would sometimes do that after work on another day. It was really hard. I’d work eight hours at the hospital, come home and work another four hours at least on stuff like social media, answering emails, editing photos, making blog post and it was really hard. I didn’t have a lot of social life but my friends knew that I was working really hard on something and it was something that was going to be big and it was definitely worth it.
I also knew that there was going to be an end point that my efforts were really … They were making a difference so I was going to get to that point where I wasn’t going to have to do both. It was keeping your eyes on the price. If I wasn’t seeing improvement from my work, I think it would have been a lot harder but I could see the results so I knew it was going to get to that point. I just had to keep going out there.
Bjork Ostrom: Were those results in traffic or in come from ads? What were those results that kept you motivated?
Beth Moncel: Yeah it was definitely both of those. I watch my traffic it grew very steadily. Publicity things like getting interviews from major websites and features and yeah, definitely the income was growing as well. All of those things, it’s the little victories along the way that keep you motivated towards those big goals and that’s something I talk to people about a lot is you have to have those little tiny victories to keep you motivated. You can’t just go for the main big thing five years on the road.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. One of the longest threads on Food Blogger Pro is this thread called little victories and it has hundreds of posts from people that have these little victories. One of the ones that I’m thinking back to and maybe I’m going to be totally off with this but was there a post about an interview you did for like, “I’m going to take a stab at it.” Oprah TV or something like that. That’s so cool. What was that all about?
Beth Moncel: That was the own show on oprah.com and they wanted to do a series of four little Skype interview things and that just blew my mind. I was like, “Okay, if you’re doing some Oprah, you’ve made it.”
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Beth Moncel: That was very exciting and it’s those little things along the way or getting featured on Lifehacker or things like that. When you get those little victories, it’s just like you’re so excited and it makes you want to work when you’re tired because you have something bigger and better is happening down the road.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. Absolutely. How did they get a hold of you? Was it just through your contact form on your website or what did that look like?
Beth Moncel: Yup, that was it. Just the contact form.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. One of the things that I’m curious about is the mindsets that you have to overcome. Lindsay and I talked about this quite a bit where there are certain things where we call it the resistance. Things that keep you from doing the work or maybe those little voices that say, “Hey, you should do this instead or you’re not cut out to do this.” Do you feel like you ever run into different mindsets that you have to overcome and how do you go about overcoming those?
Beth Moncel: Yeah, definitely. My biggest one is being really self-conscious about my cooking surprisingly. Half the time when I make recipes I’m like, “I just don’t know if this is good enough to put on there. Is it really good or is it just me?” I found in the past that some of the recipes that I was most self-conscious about ended up being some of the most popular recipes on the site. I have to always tell myself even if I don’t think it’s good enough, it’s going to be good enough for somebody out there. It’s still going to be helpful for somebody so we might as well put it up there and see what happens.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I know that Lindsay has talked a lot about that and that she’s not classically trained as a chef and she didn’t go to school for it but when you’re first starting out, it’s may be just your mom or maybe some friends that are visiting or somebody random that just stumbles across it but when you start to have a following, when you start to have more people that come along, there’s a little bit more pressure there so I’ve totally get it.
One of the things that I was curious about in what you had talked about before was the book writing process. Can you talk a little bit about that and did you self-publish? Did you work with a publisher? When did that come out and how has that experience been?
Beth Moncel: That was a really great experience. I was contacted and I think 2012 by an editor at Penguin so it was a really big publishing house, I was really excited and they wanted to publish my book. I had been thinking about doing it for a while and I actually took a vacation from my day job to write a book proposal when vacation came around. I was like, “No, I’m too tired. I just need a real vacation and it was … While I was on that vacation then I got the email from the editor.”
It was pretty incredible but it’s a long process working with the publisher. It took about a year and a half and it was a lot of work and the actual writing process took about six months and then there’s another six months or so of editing back and forth and then there is all the publicity and the design phase. I’m glad I went with a publisher for my first book because not knowing how to do any of that, it was nice having professionals on my side. They know how to do everything the best way so hey, put it in their hands and let them take care of it.
It generated a lot of publicity not just for the book but for my blog so that was an incredible hold. I’ve got a lot of growth since the publication of the book. In the future, I’ll probably self publish just because instead of getting 7% royalties, you’re getting a hold of it. I think just with the way books are now with tablets and everything, there’s a huge audience for eBooks so I’ll probably do that next time. I’m really glad I had the experience of working with a publisher.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely to see how it’s done. To see the path they take in the process. If you did it again, do you think you would do more of a digital eBook versus print?
Beth Moncel: Yeah, I think I would just do an eBook.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, cool. Awesome and then publish it to iBookstore or in Kindle and all of the different platforms?
Beth Moncel: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome. What are the things that are working for you right now Beth in terms of traffic generation for your blog? I know that you’ve been able to grow it to a really successful point where you have a decent amount of traffic and what are the things now that you feel like are areas that you like to focus on or the things that are working well?
Beth Moncel: Right now, I think it’s the same as for most blogs, Pinterest is the number one traffic drive so I really try to focus a lot in the photography and making good pens but I think running theme since the beginning has been connecting with my readers on social media. When you do that, I think they’re way more likely to share your concept with other people because they believe in you and they believe in what you’re doing so that’s always been at the top of my list of focuses.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. How do you go about doing that?
Beth Moncel: I just make sure that I respond to every single inquiry and comment on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and email. I try as hard as I can to answer all of them and to stay positive to even when someone comes at you with something negative and it gets really important to make sure your answer is … Has a positive spin on it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely and that’s hard to do especially when it’s negative. It would be a mindset thing too where to always keep it positive even if somebody else is negative. I was listening to a podcast the other day and it was a tech journalist talking about different tech websites that are just starting to shut down comments because there is so many people that come on and they’re just negative and going back and forth like, “Do you want to do that or do you not?” Knowing that in the space that we are, the connection and the trust and the engagement is such an important piece.
It’s not an easy decision and at the same time, it’s so hard when you get that one negative comment and it’s like, “You can have 100 comments and one really mean comment.” It can just ruin things.
Beth Moncel: Ruin the day.
Bjork Ostrom: It can be … It’s terrible.
Beth Moncel: It sips down quick. They know that and that’s why they’re doing it. It really detours people from doing it in the first place. If they see your responses to other negative comments in a really positive way. I really think it makes a huge difference in the tone of your entire blog if you stay positive all the time.
Bjork Ostrom: If nothing else for those that are listening and for you as well Beth, know that we’re in it together and there’s people that get it and that experience it and you’re not alone and if you’re running in to that stuff, there’s other people that run into that as well. If you are to do a basic pie chart of traffic to Budget Bytes, would Pinterest would maybe be 50% would you say or even more than that?
Beth Moncel: It’s probably about 50%.
Bjork Ostrom: Google organic traffic?
Beth Moncel: Yeah probably. I still get quite a bit of redirect traffic from my Blogger site so that’s always up there. Things like BuzzFeed and other major websites that have featured me so yeah just …
Bjork Ostrom: With BuzzFeed, do you reach out to authors or do people reach out to you or is it more like you’ll come across a BuzzFeed article and say, “Hey, there’s a picture from Budget Bytes.”
Beth Moncel: Yeah, they reach out to me first. I think actually the very first time it happened, I don’t know if they even asked me. Maybe it was one of the community post or something but since that time, they have reached out to me for blanket approval so they don’t have to email me every time. I just said, “Sure, use my contact whenever you want.” They do often and it’s awesome every time they do.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah for sure. That was the same thing for Pinch of Yum. Lindsay, my wife Pinch of Yum. They reached out to us and said, “Hey, anytime you want, you can come on and grab a picture for any type of BuzzFeed article as long as you provide a link backwards.” They always do anyways. For those that are listening that haven’t had that yet, I’d encourage you to reach out to those authors so that’s something that you can do and say, “Hey, I have this food blog. I’m just getting started.” I just want to let you know you can go ahead and you can use any photos.
We actually have a blanket FAQ where we say, “If you want to use a photo, you can as long as you provide a link back to the original post. That’s been really beneficial for us. What are some of the tools or services that you’re using right now Beth that really help you in what you do? Are there different things that … Let’s say this, I’m going to ask a question like this. If you are on an island with an internet connection and you can have let’s say only five different tools or services, what would those be for you?
Beth Moncel: That’s a tough question.
Bjork Ostrom: It could be more than five. It doesn’t have to be five.
Beth Moncel: I don’t know. It’s hard coming out with any of it. The Adobe creative cloud. I use that as my way to edit photos.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you edit in Photoshop or Lightroom?
Beth Moncel: I edit in Photoshop and instead of paying a large lump sum for my own license, I decided to go for the $10 a month subscription that way, we always have the most up to date version and it’s just so smaller impact on your wallet at the time. I definitely want that …
Bjork Ostrom: For those, this will give you some time to think. For those that don’t know, the Adobe Suite used to be like $1,000 or 1,600 and they recently made a change with it. They’ve changed to monthly so you can get Photoshop and Lightroom for $10 a month which is an awesome deal. A lot of times will suggest the Adobe Suite to people and they’ll say, “I don’t know. I just don’t have enough money.” Thinking that it used to be what it used to be which is this huge chunk of change that you have to invest in it but the reality is it’s really affordable.
Adobe, so Photoshop Lightroom, are there other tools that you’d use to compose your blog post within WordPress?
Beth Moncel: Yeah, I’d just write it within WordPress and give it just a quick read which I probably should do or …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure [crosstalk 00:26:22]
Beth Moncel: By the time you’re finished writing a blog post, you’re sick of looking at it.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s get this out of the door.
Beth Moncel: Yeah, quick proofread, put it out there and if there’s a mistake, people let me know but I would probably die without Google Analytics because I’m a number junkie and I love looking at data so I could spend hours in Google Analytics. That’s definitely one. I really like using PicMonkey to make collages. That’s really helpful.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m looking at a post now and I’m looking at the top image here and you have the budgetbytes.com on it and then it says Chicken and Kale Caesar Wraps. Did you do that in PicMonkey?
Beth Moncel: That I did in Photoshop.
Bjork Ostrom: When you do a collage, that would be multiple images in one?
Beth Moncel: Yeah and I do that for Pinterest because you all have proven on the Food Blogger Pro, those are definitely more successful so I usually just put two together, two photos together. Different angles of the finished product and make sure that the name of the recipe is on there. Just make sure it’s longer so it has more real estate on the Pinterest page basically so do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you show those in the post or do you hide those? That’s one thing that we know people go back and forth on.
Beth Moncel: I actually have just spent uploading them to a brand new pin and I know I need to hide them so that other people when they go to click Pin, I just have to start doing that yet but I definitely think that’s probably the best way to go.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup, cool. Great. Adobe Suite, Google Analytics. Anything else that you can think of that … Any type of tool or service that you like?
Beth Moncel: That’s probably about it. The only other thing I’m really addicted to is looking at my … The data in my ad network, dashboards. I’m totally addicted to that.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, cool. Do you work with a network, ad network company right now or are you doing that on your own? How do you structure that?
Beth Moncel: I’m doing it on my own right now but I have recently applied to AdThrive just because it’s getting to be such a big Javas taking up all of my time and like I said, I want more time to focus on the content and put this in the hands of professionals because they know what they’re doing and I really don’t so.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That’s one of the things that we’re slowly starting to learn as much as we can get people on that are experts in their fields where, “Okay, passing stuff off.” I think that’s smart. With Google Analytics, I’m interested to hear how you use that tool and where you look and how you analyze those numbers. I know you’re a numbers person when you look at a Budget Bytes blog post, you can see that you break down the cost of the recipe for the recipe overall, per serving and I’m guessing those kind of number crunching analytical skills crossover into Google Analytics as well. What are the places in Google Analytics that you like to look and keep track of?
Beth Moncel: My favorite things to look at in Google Analytics are which posts are the most popular for any given amount of time to see if something is going viral. I also love to see where traffic is coming from because that will give you a heads up where you should be putting your effort as far as promotion. That’s my favorite. I also love looking at how the distribution between mobile and desktop traffic has changed over the last six years is unbelievable. I love looking at that and I just really like to go deep dive into where my traffic is coming from and I often click over at the website that shows up on the list and try to see what they said or how I was on that page at all.
That gives you a lot of insights to what people are thinking about your work to. Instead of just getting the feedback that comes through people who take the time to actually email you, you can get some feedback as a reader. It’s like a stealth feedback. They don’t know that you’re reading but …
Bjork Ostrom: Which is maybe the best time to get because it’s unfiltered and they don’t necessarily know that it’s going straight to you so it makes sense. You’d go over, you’d check out that post, you’d read through it. Would you take any type of … Would you use that in any way where maybe you reach out to the person or is that more of information collecting and analyzing versus than using that to take some other type of action.
Beth Moncel: It’s usually just more for my own personal interest and realizing what people find helpful and useful about my blog or what they don’t like about the blog. Oftentimes, I do leave a note saying, “Oh, thank you so much for featuring me for this or that.” You’re always so grateful for that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely and that goes a long way to reach out and just say thank you. What are some of the things that you changed Beth that helped you transition into doing your blog full time? Were there mindsets that you changed or strategies that helped you to switch your blog into becoming a full time income or was it just the slow process of building it up over six years?
Beth Moncel: It’s just been a slow process. Honestly, I’m still in a major transition phase learning how to manage my time now that I have all my time to focus on a blog and actually, I’m trying to really focus on having a work life balance now for the first time in six years like I can go out with friends. I can do so many things like that or I can actually … I have time to exercise now. Things like that and just having so much time, I really want to figure out what my next bit project or big hurdle is going to be. What am I going to overcome next because I’m one of those people that’s really motivated by accomplishments so I like to just go for the gold and see what I can do, what I’m capable of.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. One of the things that we chatted about before that I think is really important, a really important concept is the idea that it’s the process is something that is valuable in and of itself. Not just the end goal and how blogging or building a website or building a business can be enriching more than just kind of the top level stuff that we think of as like, “Hey, you can be your own boss or you can have a business but that it can really be more enriching than just that.”
Can you talk a little bit about that and how you provide that in your blog and the decisions that you’ve made with it?
Beth Moncel: Absolutely. My main reason for starting to the blog to begin with was to have a project, a creative outlet. Something that would keep me busy. Something I could work on that would make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Even if I wasn’t making any money off the blog and I was still having to work my day job, I would still love it because you’re always learning something new because the industry is constantly changing and learning something new, it really feels good at least to me.
I love creating things so that always is awesome to me and then, the people that you connect with, it’s unbelievable. The emails I get everyday are so incredible. They practically make me cry so knowing that I’m doing something that’s also positive is beyond words. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. All those little things day to day are probably … They are the best part about blogging to me and I’m just lucky that I also get to live off of it now.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. That’s awesome. Question for you, curious if you were to go back in time and you were to sit down over a cup of coffee with Beth of six years ago, what would you tell her knowing that she’s about to enter on this journey of building this blog and this creative endeavor. What advise would you give her either high level or very specific?
Beth Moncel: Find Food Blogger Pro earlier.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh funny. Thank you. I appreciate that blog.
Beth Moncel: [crosstalk 00:34:09] to just suck up or anything but that was really a life changing moment for me because for a long time, a good five years or so, I was doing this on my own. I couldn’t talk to my friends about any of the issues I was having blogging. The only way I found answers to problems I was having was Google and that wasn’t very helpful so I just felt like I was loading out in the seat by myself and then when you find a community of people who were also doing the same thing, you can get feedback, you can get score, you learn about new things to other people. You can learn from their mistakes and it’s so helpful, so helpful, definitely would have tried to find something like that sooner.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, yeah. The community aspect I think is a huge part of it and we have this weird reality where we’re building something but we’re surrounded by people that maybe don’t totally understand what that is and Lindsay and I have struggled with that as we tried to communicate what it is that we do and it’s so bizarre and so abstract and a lot of times I think people may think we’re unemployed just in the way that they respond, it’s almost like apologetic or like, “I’m so sorry to hear that.” Because it’s just so bizarre and strange but I think the community aspect is so important and the Food Blogger Pro community and this is in by our doing we’ve just been so lucky to have this incredible community with people.
There’s also communities like they have I think most major cities will have like a WordPress meetup where it will be people that get together that use WordPress and it’s not exactly the same, it’s not food blogging but it’s people that get it and they know the issues that you have and they’d be able to offer advise and it’s a great way to connect. I know there’s also different types of meetups like that like maybe it’s people that are doing online business or things like that.
Again, in Minnesota, we have a site that’s called tech.mn and it’s all tech news so we follow along people that are doing that but I would encourage people to go to meetups.org or .com if they want to look more into that because I think you hit on the head and that community is so important and surrounding your people … Surrounding yourself with people that get it. Not only to help your business grow but also, just because it’s fun like it’s enjoyable to be with people that you enjoy being with. I think that’s really beneficial so.
Beth Moncel: Yeah, I went to one meetup before I had found the online communities and it was mostly with fashion bloggers that are in my area but that one like hour or two that I was there, I learned so much from there so it’s definitely well worth it to find other people in your industry.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome. What are the things that you enjoy most about blogging full time Beth? Some of the things that you discovered that are really enjoyable?
Beth Moncel: Like I mentioned before, I think my favorite part is always learning something new. I could just … There’s a never ending list of things that you could learn if you want to. It’s to the point where I have to tell myself no. I hire someone to do this for you. Don’t try to do it yourself but if I wanted to, I could learn so much about coding or ad networks just anything. I love that aspect of it and then also connecting with people that I wouldn’t normally meet all throughout the world. It’s been incredible.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, the process is greater than the end and that’s something that we continually come back to. A few more questions here as we’re moving towards the end. One of the things that I would be curious to know Beth is you talked about some of the bigger projects ahead, what do you feel like is important for bloggers moving forward? We’ve talked about some of the things that you use right now, some of the things that have been helpful for you as you’ve grown your blog. When you look ahead, do you feel like there’s things that people should be aware of, things that are important maybe little inklings of trends that you see in terms of where things are headed? Anything along those lines that you could offer insight or feedback on?
Beth Moncel: I really think that video is probably going to take over everything. Maybe that’s just my fear of speaking like I’m terrified of having to get into that industry but I think it’s inevitable. You have to. You look at Youtube stars now and they’re the next superstars. That’s how people communicate online now. It’s not just images. The internet as a whole is a very visual industry but it’s definitely going towards a video that’s just no way around it.
Bjork Ostrom: I was talking with Kelly Senyei recently and she has a blog justataste.com and she was talking about one of the things she mentioned that I had never thought of it, that was so cool. She said Pinterest really hasn’t got to video yet and it’s like oh yeah, it will be a video platform eventually. I was listening to another podcast yesterday and they were talking about the presence of video in Facebook and just how they become so video-centric at Facebook. You just see that as this is like the nerdy side of me but as bandwidth becomes available to people around the world and they’re able to stream video especially from their phone from mobile, it’s becoming more and more important.
That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed with all of the interviews that we’ve done is there is always some type of mention of people saying video. Video, video, video and like you said, it’s scary because that means like it’s so different than in their PJ’s taking photos and that’s in you. I’m just speaking from my experience.
Beth Moncel: I think the reason that scares me the most is because when you have just a regular food blog or photos, the focus is on the food but when you do video, the focus becomes you and I’m a very private person so I want the focus to be the food, not my personality but I think that’s really the way it’s going. You have to be a personality.
Bjork Ostrom: When you think about that with video, what does that mean for you? What does it mean for Budget Bytes? Is that something that you think you’ll introduce or are you going to hold out on that until there’s the need for it? What does that look like?
Beth Moncel: I think as with everything that I do, I am probably going to push my fear out of the way and just go for it because that’s always a rewarding experience. I had thought about doing Youtube. I’ve been putting it off because it’s a lot to learn so it’s going to be a really big project but in the meantime, I actually got contacted by a producer and we’re moving forward towards producing a television show that we’re probably going to pitch to networks like Youtube or Netflix, things like that so that’s in the works right now and like I said, I’m terrified but I’m going to go for it because it’s an opportunity and I’m going to take it.
Bjork Ostrom: Good for you. Lindsay and I have just experimented a couple of times with the video stuff and every time you step in front of that lens and it’s just staring back at you, it’s like the [crosstalk 00:40:53], you just go for it, right. Similar to the podcast, I’ve said this a few times in different podcasts but it’s like, you just don’t know until you jump on and press record and move forward with stuff.
Beth Moncel: You can’t let your fear stop you. You’d never know what you’re capable of until you try so you have to try.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. Moving towards the end here, a couple more questions. Last one that I wanted to ask specific about blogging is I’d be curious to know Beth. If you were to sit down with somebody today and they came to you and they said, “Beth, I’m thinking about starting a food blog.” Or any type of blog but let’s just pretend that they’re starting a food blog because this is Food Blogger Pro Podcast so it makes sense but they said down at the end they said, “What advice would you give me, I’m going to start my blog tomorrow, what would you say to them?”
Beth Moncel: I would say number one, be diligent. Don’t just start it and then get tired and quit because the biggest thing with blogging is that you have to keep going and keep on it and I think a lot of times not just with blogging but anything in life, people tend to like, jump in and they’re all excited and then once the excitement fizzle’s out, they just let it wander off but I think with any project, if you keep putting effort into it, it pays off so you have to like we said before, let those little victories motivate you and keep you working on it but just don’t give up. Keep going and make it fun. Get the most out of it if you can.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think the fun combination with the long period of time combination with getting a little bit better in learning like you had said before, it’s the recipe for success and that if you do anything for a long amount of time and continually find ways to get a little bit better, you’re going to automatically have this huge advantage because it’s so common for people to start something and to not finish or to stop after it gets hard or to stop after a few months but it’s really not until you’ve put in a ton of time, a ton of energy.
For you, it was four or five years, that’s a lot of time, that’s a lot of energy and that’s a lot of sacrifice. You talked about …
Beth Moncel: It went quickly. It goes fast if you’re in to it.
Bjork Ostrom: If you’re in to it. Exactly. That’s the fun part and that’s the enjoyable part that’s so important and I think it’s important for people to hear. If it’s something that you’re completely miserable doing, I would encourage you whoever it is listening to figure out where the other areas, maybe it is, maybe you love doing video and you love being in front of the camera or maybe you love doing podcasting, maybe it’s not the written word. I figured out for me I really enjoy podcast a lot more than I enjoy writing a blog post.
I still enjoy that but it takes me a little bit longer to get up to speed on that. I think that’s important for people to know there’s all these different avenues that they can explore that and like you said Beth, there is that fun element that I think is so important that you’re enjoying it but you’re not just looking to get to the end and be done but when you’re in it, when you’re enjoying it, it can be a really good thing so that’s awesome.
Beth Moncel: Also, I would also say, be smart about it. I worked full time all the way up until last year. You hear so many times people that throw away their entire life savings or quit their job because they’re passionate about something but you can’t just do that. You have to be careful about it and make sure that you’re doing it in a smart way.
Bjork Ostrom: There is great analogy that I heard the other day where somebody was talking about how there is this mindset sometimes where you have to burn your boats right so there is this idea like, “If you’re going to win the war, you have to land your boats and then burn them and then you have no choice but to move forward.” The guy that was talking about it, he was like, “The thing that you don’t realize is there is also people that burn their boats and on the shore puking because they’re so nervous.”
It’s a great analogy until you realize that a lot of times it doesn’t work and I think your story of slowly transitioning out of your job allowing yourself to not have sleepless nights wondering am I going to make this is a great testament to that in a really smart move that you made on your part so that’s great and I think you’re great. To end on, Beth, last thing that I want to ask before we wrap up, where can people find you? I think it would be great for people to follow along and see what you’re doing, where are your different locations online?
Beth Moncel: Sure. The website is budgetbytes.com and bytes is with a Y because it’s online. Very cute. I’m also on Twitter and Pinterest and I just got an Instagram a few months ago finally and Facebook and you can find links to all those on the website.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. We will put those in the show notes for this as well. Beth, thanks so much for coming along on the podcast for answering all these questions and also just for your role in Food Blogger Pro. I really appreciate you and I know that you’ve offered a lot of insight to other members on the forums and stuff like that so I really appreciate you and congratulations on everything you’ve done. It’s awesome.
Beth Moncel: Thank you so much for letting me share my story. It was really good talking to you.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Thanks Beth. Have a good day.
Beth Moncel: All right bye.
Bjork Ostrom: And we’re still here.
Beth Moncel: Cool.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey, great job. That was awesome Beth.
Beth Moncel: Thank you. That was so much fun.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s so fun to connect with people and hear your story and … Big thank you to Beth for coming on to the podcast today. It’s so awesome that you’d come on and share all that information. Her story, some tips, some tricks and some advice that she’d have for people that are interested in doing the same thing that she’s done building her food blogging to a full time job. Really, really awesome. A few things before we wrap up. Number one, we would like to say a big thank you to our show sponsor, any guesses who that is? Yes, it’s us. Food Blogger pro.
Food Blogger Pro is a membership site and if you are interesting in building a food related business online, Food Blogger Pro is the place to be. We have video tutorials walking you through all the different things that you know to build a blog. A community forum where people from all around the world are asking questions and giving answers and we’re starting to build out some tools and some deals and discounts for bloggers as well. We’d really encourage you to check that out and if you’re interested, I’d encourage you to use the URL foodbloggerpro.com/beth and if you do that, that gives credit to Beth for that sign up.
We set up an affiliate link for her and we want to make sure that we do that as a way to say thank you for her for coming on the podcast today. Be sure to use that foodbloggerpro.com/beth. Two other things, number one, if you have a minute, we would really appreciate it if you jump on to iTunes or your favorite podcast app and leave a rating and review for this show, that really helps to put fuel in the fire for us to keep going, to keep this thing up and to help us show up higher in search results.
We want to get found, we want more people to discover this podcast and a rating and review would really, really help with that. Lastly, I just want to say thank you. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you wherever you are, if you’re listening in your car or while you’re working out or maybe you’re doing dishes or maybe you’re doing laundry. I don’t know what it is but whatever you’re doing, I really, really appreciate the fact that you’re tuning in to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast while doing it.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for listening in. We really appreciate you. We’ll be back next week, same time, same place. I’m excited for the conversations we have coming down the line. I know there’s a ton of things that you guys are going to learn from these interviews that we have queued up. Until next time, make it a great week and we’ll be back soon.