Mastering Your Blog Business with Jaden and Scott Hair from Steamy Kitchen – FBP009

For today’s episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast, Bjork interviews Jaden and Scott Hair from the inspiring food blog Steamy Kitchen.

Last time on the FBP podcast, Bjork talked about the intracacies of ad optimization with Andy Marzka, the founder of AdThrive. If you didn’t get a chance to listen to that episode (or if you want to hear it again!), click here.

Mastering Your Blog Business

Food blogging starts out as a hobby for most, but after all the learning, hard work, and pride in what they’ve built, many people decide they want to turn their hobby into their business.

But, that road can seem like a rough ride if you don’t know what to expect. Fortunately, Jaden and Scott Hair, the makers of Steamy Kitchen, Food Blog Forum, and Kitchen Table Mastery, are here to tell us a little bit more about it.

In this fun episode, Jaden & Scott reveal:

  • The two traits they see in all successful bloggers
  • The secret to doing the difficult things
  • Their biggest secret to creating an income from a food blog (it has to do with Robots)
  • How to find out what people need
  • Why they think building an email list is the most important thing you can do
  • Why diversification was the key to Steamy Kitchen’s success
  • Who is on their imaginary board of directors – and why they’re there
  • How to determine your "worth"

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Resources:

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Transcript:

Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number nine of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Hello everybody. I hope you are doing well wherever your are. You could be at the gym, maybe you’re in the car, maybe you’re doing dishes. Wherever you are, I hope you’re doing well. I’m really excited that you are tuning in to the podcast today. My name is Bjork Ostrom. This is the Food Blogger Pro Podcast where we talk about all things food media and today is no exception. We’re going to be having incredible guests on the podcast today. We’re going to be having Jaden and Scott Hair, the force behind Steamy Kitchen Food Blog Forum and their new mastermind group Kitchen Table Mastery. They’re going to be sharing some really awesome content, some really awesome tips, and some really insightful information about the business of blogging and I think you’re going to get a lot out of it. I don’t want to take up any more time, we’re going to jump into it. Without further ado, Jaden and Scott welcome to the podcast.

Jaden Hair: Thank you. I feel like need to have like a beer or a margarita right next to me for this podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: If you need to break, we can go get one right now. We can edit that out.

Jaden Hair: Okay, cut.

Bjork Ostrom: If your advice will be better with a margarita in hand, you can do that. I have a coffee, which maybe doesn’t quite fit the vibe a little bit.

Jaden Hair: No, not really.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ll stick with it. Before we jump into the blog stuff, we’re going to be talking about blogging, some monetization business stuff, all of those awesome topics, there’s something that I needed to bring up here. It’s an important question. I was doing a little bit of research for this podcast and I came across this picture that’s been floating around the internet, Jaden playing tennis with Dick Vitale the famous college basketball announcer. I’m so curious, what’s that all about.

Scott Hair: Yeah, baby.

Jaden Hair: He is so fun to play tennis with because he does these … He doesn’t run very fast and neither do I but he does these like killer chop shots where it just barely goes over the net and he knows I’m not going to run for it so of course he wins the point. I don’t want to make him run so much because he’s old. I don’t want to be on the news the next day.

Scott Hair: Jaden Hair kills …

Jaden Hair: Oh my God, that’s horrible, Jaden Hair kills, that’s horrible.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m glad we connected on that.

Scott Hair: She’s yet to reveal who won the game.

Jaden Hair: Yeah, we’re not going to reveal that.

Bjork Ostrom: He’s your tennis buddy, you play with him?

Jaden Hair: Yeah, when he’s in town … He lives nearby and when he’s in town he likes to get exercise and tennis is his game of choice so we play usually just singles in the morning.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. It has nothing to do with blogging, maybe it does because it was on Twitter so that was my justification. That’s the connection. Like I said, I’m excited for you guys to be on the podcast today because we’re going to be talking about some stuff that I know people have a ton of questions about and I appreciate your openness to talk about this stuff, the business side of things, negotiation, different income strategies, and things like that. Not only have you put these into practice on your own blog, steamy kitchen but we also know that you’ve done other and built other brands, like Food Blog Forum which Lindsay and I attended. We were so thankful to be a part of that this year.

Kitchen Table Mastery is another brand that you’ve built kind of guiding people along their online business path. You have a lot of exposure to this, you have a lot of experience with it, and one of the questions I want to hear from you guys going into it and you’ve maybe done a lot of case studies with people, what’s the difference between the people that succeed in building a business online and those that don’t? Would you be able to kind of boil that down and separate the differences between those two?

Jaden Hair: Yeah, I think in all of the … I think we’ve done nine food blog forums and on each one of them we focus on two areas, photography and then business. Our specialty is the business end of it and then of course with our Kitchen Table Mastery Program where we coach people on the business of blogging, we’ve seen so many different types of bloggers. People that are already making a full time income and then people who really would love to build something. There are a couple of common denominators. I’ll talk about one and I’ll have Scott talk about the other. The ones that are successful in building a business is that they’re open to trying new things and not being scared to go outside of their little comfort zone. Why this is so important because as you know, things change fast. Being nimble enough and being able to recognize that my goodness, this trend is not a trend anymore. It’s going to be changing and being able to be flexible enough to adopt something different. That’s one trait. The other trait is really the mindset.

Scott Hair: Yeah, I was going to say the one that sticks out for me is also the word, grit. The ones that have the grit that can keep getting knocked down and getting back up and keep going at it again and again. It’s like they have an insatiable reason why they must do, must succeed. Those people with that drive and that grit, that ability to keep trying no matter what happens are the ones who truly do succeed. There are people and we’ve seen many times where they try one thing and they knocked down and it doesn’t work and they’re like, oh that’s it, this doesn’t work, it’s not going to work for me.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m done.

Scott Hair: I’m done and then they turn away.

Jaden Hair: I guess you can’t make money on the internet.

Bjork Ostrom: I guess you can’t make money, they were right.

Scott Hair: The truth is, there are people out there that are like, okay I just learned one way not to do it and they actually use that as a reference for perhaps making something that could sell down the road, another way that they could money. They say, hey look I’ve already got these lessons on what not to do along with what to do. Those people are hold to hold back. They’re like, I’m going. No matter what you say, I’m going.

Bjork Ostrom: Can I have an honest moment with you guys? One of the first sites that I ever put together was a site called … I thought in my head am I going to talk about this, I was like you’re going to talk about it, photoshopmom.com. It was Photoshop actions for mom bloggers and we started that and then it fizzled. That was an example of one of the many sites that I started that didn’t work and didn’t stick. For people that are following along it might look like we just kind of threw Food Blogger Pro up and kind of built it but oh man, we have a long history of trying out different things that just flat out didn’t work and that was an example of one.

Jaden Hair: I’m going to look that up now. Is it still up?

Bjork Ostrom: You could probably buy the domain from me for $10,000. The grit piece, Scott I think is so important and there’s a ted talk, i don’t remember who it’s by, that they talk about that being a really common denominator for students that succeed is this idea of grit and sticking with it. Do you think grit is something that people have inherently or is it something that you can develop? If you can develop it, how do you do that?

Scott Hair: I think it’s developed. I don’t think people are born with this idea of I’m going to be, you know come out of the womb and I’m going to get out no matter kind of sort of speak. That doesn’t come until much later. I think what it is, is really that in most people’s lives they’re faced with adversity and what they do in that moment defines who they are. When they run into a struggle, do they push forward and push on? If you want to develop it outside of adversity, there are ways to do that as well. The biggest thing that comes to my mind is compelling reasons why.

If you sit down with someone who is totally driven, they can tell you emotionally charged reasons why they must do something. It’s part of their passion. It’s what gets their drive going. It’s what ignites and makes people more, that people want to be around that person more because they’re so involved with such strong passions and reasons why that they develop this grit. This grit becomes part of them because they try something it doesn’t work like Photoshop Moms didn’t work but you knew you still had to succeed online so you started another business and you kept going with that strong reason why like I must do this. That’s where the seeds of grit are born and then by constant putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, pushing yourself beyond your limits to do what you want to do in order to succeed, that’s where your grit muscle grows. That’s where it really becomes stronger and do that enough times you’re going to build a muscle like you know what, I am unstoppable.

Bjork Ostrom: I love that idea of the grit muscle. I think for a lot of people it’s maybe one that we don’t think about and it’s one that we don’t exercise a lot but the idea that the more you exercise that the stronger it gets and the more you’re able to kind of push through those barriers, which I think is awesome.

I want to talk to Jaden a little bit about one of things that you said, which was the mindset stuff. I think part of that is grit but also part of it is moving intentionally outside of your comfort zone. It’s interesting because as we have these conversations, a lot of the reality with building a business online is that it’s not some little trick that allows you to get more traffic, it’s a mindset that allows you to do things that you’re not comfortable with. Do you have some examples of what you personally have had to overcome or kind of pushing outside of that comfort zone or even some of the people you’ve worked with and how they overcame those fears.

Jaden Hair: I think Scott touched on it a little bit. A lot of our members will say, how do I do this, I don’t know what to do, or how to I get to that next level. I can give you 10,000 reasons on how to do something but that’s not the answer that people are looking for. The answer that they really need to get to themselves is why am I doing this and why must I succeed. Being uncomfortable in not knowing what’s going to happen I think is also another muscle that you need to practice, especially when you’re an entrepreneur, especially an internet entrepreneur in this blogging world that we’re in. This is just part of the business. This is just part of the landscape.
When you don’t know what to do … When I don’t know what to do, Scott always tells me, why are you doing this. I give him a couple of lame reasons why I need to do this and he goes, no really why are you doing this? Go get a piece of paper and write down, fill up front and back of the piece of paper, why must you make this happen and by the third piece of paper then the answers just come flowing. Because as Scott mentioned, if you have strong enough reasons why you must do something or must make something happen, the answers just come.

Scott Hair: Just figure out how.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s cool. Can you provide some examples of the why for you guys, for the things that you do?

Jaden Hair: What examples of why? Well, you know when we started Kitchen Table Mastery, we wanted to of course do as many Food Blog Forum events as we could but once a year organizing a massive event like it’s just nearly impossible especially because it’s a not-for-profit entity for us. We started with let’s build an online membership or an online mastermind program where we have people it doesn’t matter where you are and we use webinars and we use Skype and we use all sorts of online tools to connect with people. I’m like, God how do we do this? What do we have to do? What software program do we have to manage and how are going to do … Literally, as you know, it’s confusing and it’s a lot of technical information to understand, especially when you’re building something from scratch.

We honestly had to take a step back and say, okay first of all we’re a little in too deep with this trying to figure out how to do something and we have to go back to who are we helping, how does this make me feel, how do I want other people to feel, and what’s the outcome? The moment we started focusing on how do we want to help people, that’s when things start popping up, answers started popping up and everything just kind of came together.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.

Scott Hair: I would say the big step that came for us was like when we got Food Blog Forum and there’s always challenges in organizing an event like that and the question came back as how can we impact more people? Because as you saw, Food Blog Forum we’re limited to about how many could go.

Jaden Hair: About 120.

Scott Hair: All our tickets are selling out in microseconds but it was very to get, how to impact more people and get more people involved and really touch more people. That was kind of our driving reason why we started Kitchen Table Mastery because we want to help more people on things like impact and contribution and making a difference and helping people and teaching people. These are all strong reasons why for us but I’ll give you another even more interesting poignant example of how things can become very important and how quickly you can do it.

I can remember our first Kitchen Table webinar that we were doing and we were planning on launching the website maybe 2-3 months down the road and this was kind of a trial by fire, you know get our feet wet. During the middle of the whole conversation, Jaden is talking about you know we’re going to do this website, we’re going to have people come out, we want people to sign up, and at the very end she goes, oh by the way, we’re starting this website next week or it was even like tomorrow or something like that. I was like, oh great, now I have to do it. I must do it and I must do it now and literally in the 24 hours after that webinar, we had the whole site up. We had the skeleton up because …

Jaden Hair: Me and my big mouth.

Scott Hair: It was something I had to do at that point. It was no longer something I should do or we should do somewhere down the road. It was like, no it has to be done tomorrow because we’re getting these people selling tonight and they’re purchasing, we need to have it ready to go. That’s a huge motivator, like I had to figure it out. Believe it or not, the answers came quite quickly. I think one of the biggest hangups that people have with those type of operations is that they think they have to have it all perfect before they start. Like it has to be absolutely right and this has to be absolutely you know, every single I dotted and every T crossed and it works perfectly and flawlessly. I bet you know from experience, this world of online marketing and online business and food blogging is changing constantly. If you’re always trying to get it where it’s absolutely perfect and then do something, you’re going to be about two steps behind.

Jaden Hair: Or never launch at all.

Scott Hair: Or never launch at all.

Jaden Hair: I can’t tell you have many people have, how many bloggers say well I have to get the right logo first or I’m not done with my logo. You know what? The last thing you need is a logo. You don’t even need a logo, you need to just put words up. I think people do get hung up on, I’ve got to have everything perfect.

Scott Hair: Or I’ve got to have the perfect photo or I’ve got to have the perfect lighting so I can take the perfect photo so I can get it uploaded correctly. Whatever software you’re using, it’s those types of things that hang people up when it doesn’t really need to. Just kept something up and get something started. Leave room for improvement so that you can work on getting better but at the same time, you’ve got to practice your craft and the only way to practice it is to put it out there.

Jaden Hair: To start.

Bjork Ostrom: I think Reed Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn has this famous quote kind of in the online business and startup world where he says, if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, then you’ve launched too late. That’s really encouraging to me. A lot of that comes back to this idea of the lean startup where you try and get something out into the world as quickly as possible so you can start to collect feedback and get some analysis on that and improve it. In episode four of the podcast, we interviewed the founder of Hot Jar, which I a feedback and analysis tool. If anybody is listening, go back and check that out because that’s a great too that allows you to get feedback on whatever it is that you’re launching and to start to improve that. I think that’s great advice. To get it out there, put it out to the world, to overcome that hurdle of being scared of launching whatever it is that you’re launching and show it to the world and so I think that’s great.

To transition out of this, if you were to say to somebody that’s listening here and they’re trying to find their why, what should they do? What type of activity should they do while they’re listening to this podcast or after they wrap up listening to this to help them get to the point of finding what their why is?

Scott Hair: I think the most important question that where the why comes from is kind of sitting back and taking a moment to reflect upon yourself and ask the question, what’s most important to me in life? It’s a big question, it’s a loaded question but really look at what is the most important thing, what do I get the most out of and I’m talking emotion wise. Those type of questions, if we don’t ask and answer those questions, we just tend to fall into light and we get herded by the crowd mentality and things surrounds us, life surrounds us and we just kind of meander through there. When you figure out what’s most important in life, life for us it’s contributing and making a difference and having impact on those around us. Those types of things for us are what drive us in a certain direction. It tends to put what I used to call, it puts the captain behind the wheel of the ship. He now has a way to steer versus just getting blown around by the winds of life.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.

Jaden Hair: That’s so tweetable. That’s really good.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m going to update my My Space status with that.

Jaden Hair: Bjork asked a good question, how do you get started and my advice is, the easiest way to get you in a positive mood. Let me just take a step back. If you try to ask yourself what’s most important to be right now and my shoulders are hunched over and I’m stressed and I’m worried and I’m thinking about all sorts of horrible things and I’m in a bad mood, I’m going to write horrible things down. The first thing that you need to do is put on some awesome music that you just absolutely love. I favorite new app is Fit Radio. It’s like songs for people in fitness. Sorry, I just hit the button for his standing desk. The whole entire table started raising.

Bjork Ostrom: It sounded like the rocket launch button, which would be an entirely different podcast episode.

Jaden Hair: Yeah, right. Fit Radio is amazing and then another app that I really love is Focus at Will. Both are very similar. You pick what type of music will get you in a really excited mental state. Listen to that while you start writing down all of the things, you know why you need to do something or what’s most important in your life so I think that’s a good first step.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.

Scott Hair: Standing up when you do this, when you’re moving your body, move it around. Go play tennis with Dick Vitale for a little bit maybe that would help you out.

Bjork Ostrom: Would you be okay putting his number on the resources page?

Jaden Hair: I will, right? His personal cell phone number.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks.

Scott Hair: All joking aside, the actual physical activity, getting yourself moving, getting the blood pumping through your heart and getting more oxygen to your brain will actually help feed the creativity process as well as change your whole emotional makeup.

Bjork Ostrom: Great, that’s awesome. Really helpful stuff. Thanks for talking about that for a bit. Even for me too, it’s a great reminder to revisit the why, why are are doing this and to not get caught up in the day-to-day of everybody’s doing this so then I have to do without really evaluating why.

Jaden Hair: Listen, Bjork. I get burnt out at least once a month. I go to Scott and I’m like, Scott I really don’t want to do this. Do we have to do this? That’s when I know I have to go back to my whys. I have to back to what started this all and reconnect with the feelings and emotions and focus of why we even built this business in the first place.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. Awesome. That was some high level important stuff. I’d like go to the very detailed level right now and talk a little bit about the specifics of income from a food blog. Here’s a big question, what is the best way for those that are listening to create an income from their food blog?

Jaden Hair: I will tell you and I’ll quote one of my very favorite movie, Robots. Have you ever watched the animated movie, Robots?

Bjork Ostrom: Robots?

Jaden Hair: Yeah, Robin Williams was in it.

Bjork Ostrom: I haven’t, wow.

Jaden Hair: Animated movie, my kids watched it when they were little and we watched every single movie when they were little like 10,000 times over and over and over. So between Robots and Cars, awesome movies but Mr. Bigweld from Robots has this quote that’s "find a need, fill a need." It’s as simple as that. People can come out with all these complicated formulations for how to make money online, online or offline but if you boil it down to the basics, it’s find a need and fill a need. Find a need that you can fill and then find a way to fill the need. It’s really that simple.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome. Tweetable once again. Look at all these quotes we have. Every time.

Scott Hair: Just so I can clarify that, our whole business is based upon an animated movie.

Bjork Ostrom: This is good. Once again, tweetable. Anytime there’s a tweetable quote, you guys can press the rocket launch button and we’ll know that everybody that’s listening should tweet that out. What I want to do, I love that quote find a need, fill a need. Let’s cut that in two and talk about each one of those. Find a need, how to people go about finding a need.

Scott Hair: Actually finding a need is something like if you’re ever sitting down going to do something and like I don’t know how to do that. This is a classic example in the food blog example, I don’t know how to do that. There is a need expressed right there by you just not knowing how to do something. Do other people have that same similar need? The answer is now you just need to pay attention to other people in your environment or in your audience and people, things like that.

There are different ways you can do this. One, you can send a single question survey and say what are you having the most challenges in the area of X and X is whatever area it is that you’re specifically looking at. The answers from that one question can actually give you plenty of information and ideas as to what are the needs in your audience and what are they listening to. If you have a Facebook page, this is a great time to put a single one question post on your Facebook page and start looking at the answers because that will give you information obviously on what needs to be out there. You might find out that an example might be I don’t know how to stir fry chicken or what are the keys to a stir fry or a good fried rice or something like that. That can give you content and you can have a whole section on how tos to do a specific style of cooking. I’m just using one from the Steamy Kitchen example.

Jaden Hair: I’ll answer both of your questions with one word each. The first is how to find a need? Well, you ask. How do you fill a need? Test.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Jaden Hair: I think you can come up with answers on what, I mean you can ask yourself what you think the needs are of this community but sometimes the best thing to do is just to put out a survey and ask other people what they think. Nine times out of ten you’ll get better answers and get better insight just from asking the community. Things like Google Docs is free. You can easily create a survey out of that. Didn’t you say you interviewed Hot Jar?

Bjork Ostrom: Yup, the founder of Hot Jar. That’s a great example. Survey tools in the tool. They also have little polls that will pop up in the bottom right corner so we have some running on Pinch of Yum right now on the photography pages that say, what is one thing that you’re struggling with right now?

Jaden Hair: Yeah, I hate complicating things that don’t need to be complicated. Ask and test, that just really comes down to the basics. As for testing, you won’t know the right answer unless you test it and get feedback. That’s why we always go back to well just launch it, see what happens, get feedback, and then …

Scott Hair: Fine tune it.

Jaden Hair: Fine tune it and change your course as needed.

Bjork Ostrom: Great, so the ask thing makes sense. We can do that through Facebook, through email, I’ve signed up for certain email newsletters where the first email they’ll send is a question, hey what are you struggling with? I think that’s a great way to start collecting feedback from people. Comments, we’ve talked about that before. If you have comments on your blog, is to stay tuned into those and see maybe what the common questions are. In a lot of ways, that’s where Food Blogger Pro came out of was people asking certain questions about the kind of technical side of things and photography so that makes sense. I think that’s super helpful and practical advice for people. Can you talk a little bit about the test? When you say test, do you mean test whether the idea works, whether people are interested in it, test the medium that you’re delivering it in, all the above?

Jaden Hair: All of the above.

Scott Hair: Yup.

Jaden Hair: All of the above. I think you’re not going to know unless you kind of put it out there. The best thing to do is to have a continuous feedback loop and it goes back to asking again, you know keep the surveys up. We had them morph our Kitchen Table Mastery a few times, massage it a few times until we got it just right. I don’t even think we have it exactly how we, just right now but we’re continually asking our members, what’s working, what’s not working? The things that don’t work, why didn’t they work and what can we do it to make it better? It’s as simple as that.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. To get to the detail level of that, if somebody has a relatively clear idea of where they should move in terms of some type of offering for their audience, they know what the need is and now they’re looking to fill it, would you recommend that they start with an eBook, that they start with a video course, that it’s maybe it’s a free product, or would that come back to testing as well?

Jaden Hair: I actually think that the thing … What we recommend is to start collecting emails and offering something for free. We call this a lead magnet. Something that you offer for free on your site so that you can start collecting people signing up for your email newsletter so that you can start creating a relationship with them. How many thousands or hundreds of thousands of people come to your site have come and gone and you have no idea where they came from or what they really needed or what they’re interested in and they’ve just already left. A lot of bloggers for the past few years, we’ve all been focused on social medial and while I think social media is something fun to do, it’s absolutely not essential to an online business these days, to make money in an online business.

The relationship that you have through your followers and your readers through social media like Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram, you don’t own that. I wrote an article that we titled Facebook is a Mean Girl in reference to the movie Mean Girls because it really is. The moment they decide they want to change the rules, you’re kind of shit out of luck. You’ve given up control over that direct relationship with your readers and your audience and your customers, potential customers. The only way to have a direct relationship is through comments or through an email newsletter or who knows what’s going to happen in the future, what other sorts of mediums we can utilize but I think that’s the easiest way.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have, for those that are listening that aren’t familiar with it, could you provide some examples of tools that people could use for that and maybe concrete examples of what that lead magnet could be?

Jaden Hair: Sure. On Steamy Kitchen, some of the most common questions that we used to get for Steamy Kitchen would be like, what brand of soy sauce do you like best or what kind of fish sauce do you like? What should I be looking for in the ingredients. We used to get this question over and over and over again so we created a little booklet that’s free and it’s my Asian Masters of Flavors. It’s a free eBook that details my favorite brands of Asian sauces, the five most popular like kings and masters of flavor of Asian cuisine. You put in your email address and we’ll get that sent right out to you. That’s something where I’ve given value to a potential reader, I’m teaching something, I’m giving it for free, and that’s my way to start establishing a relationship with a potential customer for life.

Bjork Ostrom: After that, do you use AWeber or certain email.

Jaden Hair: We used to use Mad Mimi and then our list got so big that it was actually pretty expensive. I think Mad Mimi is good for up to maybe 10,000 subscribers and after that it gets really expensive. We eventually ramped up to a program called Infusion Soft, which we are now using that manages are data base for us.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about what the benefits of a software like Infusion Soft would be.

Jaden Hair: Oh my God. Right now I’m really mad at Infusion Soft so there’s not really any good things I can say.

Bjork Ostrom: Confusion Soft, right? Isn’t that …

Jaden Hair: Yeah, we call it Confusion Soft.

Scott Hair: I deal with it quite a bit myself. I would say Infusion Soft is kind of like if Mad Mimi is your basic mail list manager that can help do some very basic simplistic things, Infusion Soft is the next level up. It has some very detailed logic on things that you can do with what they call campaigns. You can set it up to auto mail certain people if they do certain things and if they don’t do certain things. They can get very detailed.

Jaden Hair: You have to design a decision tree. If I send this email newsletter to Jane and Jane doesn’t click it in three days then another reminder email will be sent out and if she does click it and clicks on this second link and goes to this website then tag Jane as hot candidate or hot lead. Things like that, it’s actually pretty complicated.

Scott Hair: It’s very powerful.

Jaden Hair: It is very powerful but …

Scott Hair: But not necessarily what most people need to start a business with. I would tell you actually to stay away from it initially, go with something very simplistic.

Jaden Hair: AWeber is great.

Scott Hair: AWeber, Mad Mimi, there was one more I can’t think of it off the top of my head. Simplistic, easy, because the most important thing is to start building your list so that you have people that you can eventually market more products to, more ideas to, and really in essence before you can do that, build a relationship with these people.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. We talk about this occasionally where the importance of trust and one of the best ways to do that is to have a relationship with people. To start to understand your audience better and that’s all the things that I’m hearing you guys say, which is I think a huge takeaway for people.

One of the things that I’d be interested to hear you talk about is so you have these people and you’re starting to establish a relationship with them. You’re starting to build the trust with them. Eventually, you say I’m going to try and fill a need for this audience and you create something. Maybe it’s an eBook, maybe it’s a course, maybe it’s a software tool if you’re really advanced but then there’s the question of what should I charge for this? It’s a hard question to answer but do you have any advice for people that are in that stage or for people when they do get to that stage in terms of pricing a product or a service?

Jaden Hair: We actually tested it. We created an eBook and we tested it on Amazon. How many people bought at this price point and how many people bought at this price point. I sent surveys out to people who purchased and asked them a few questions trying to gauge whether or not they found value in what they purchased. It is hard to determine what do I charge people? I will always tell you that the only way to find the answer is to put it out at three different price points or two different price points and see what you feel comfortable with most, get the feedback from people who purchased and that’s how you determine value, is not from you sitting at your desk trying to put a price on something but value is determined by how much someone else gets from purchasing your product.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, it all comes back to that testing.

Scott Hair: I was going to go back there, you can even take it one step further back. I would even say look at the idea of pre-selling any product before you actually make the product. Get out there and actually look in the market or talk to your list and those relationships that you’ve been cultivating and saying, hey look I’m thinking about putting this out here and this is what I’m looking for, who wants to buy it. Who wants to actually vote with their wallet and pre-purchase it and pre-order it at your set prices. That allows you to play with that a little bit before you actually go through all the work of making something to find out that it’s not a need that the market really has. It’s a need that you want to fill but it’s not a need the market has.

Jaden Hair: We actually, for our eBook, we actually pre-sold it to our list and then once it launched, well we sold lot of them and then I said, oh guess what I have to do this week, create an eBook. Once we launched it, we tested it at different price points.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. It’s almost like a kick starter. You maybe have this internal number that you want to hit before you say we’re actually going to move forward with this and if you hit that then you can go ahead and create it. If you don’t have enough people who sign up or show interest, you’ve saved a lot of time and energy by not going through the process of actually creating it.

Jaden Hair: Exactly.

Scott Hair: Exactly and it allows you to and here’s one, well I don’t have a product and I sell like ten pieces of this product but it wasn’t enough to actually make, what do I do? That’s a great example of or a great opportunity to have a dialogue with these ten people that bought your product and say, okay what was it about the product that drew you in, what was it that made you want to buy it? Apologize for saying we don’t have it yet, it’s on pre-order and we haven’t finished it yet so I want to offer your money back but in return I also want to make sure I get some great information and feedback from you. That will help you guide your next selection of ideas to make sure there’s a bigger need.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. That’s great. That’s something that with Food Blogger Pro we did a pre-sale on Food Blogger Pro where for the first three months we sold a membership discounted for the yearly price. The other benefit with that and it was also stressful but we had a deadline. We had a launch date and it kept us accountable to opening that up because people were expecting that to open. That’s awesome. That’s super helpful.

Scott Hair: You had a big enough reason why.

Bjork Ostrom: Exactly. Yeah, it goes back to the why. It was a very big why. Would you say that would be specific to products so that would all be under the product category whether eBook, some type of service, things that that?

Jaden Hair: Product or service. We have one of our mastermind members who is thinking about doing some coaching, diet coaching. I told her let’s pre-sell your coaching program first and see if anyone is even interested, is there even a need for this, and that will also help you focus on the specific niche that you are specializing in so it’s either products or services.

Bjork Ostrom: To go back to that first question so we talked a little bit about products, services, kind of the find a need/fill a need but then there are these other categories that exist within blogs or websites as ways to create an income. I’m thinking of advertising and sponsorships, potentially freelance writing which would maybe be writing for somebody else’s site. What is your opinion of those in terms of a way for a site to create an income?

Jaden Hair: The more diversified the better. As everyone knows that has been in the food blogging industry, our revenue has been shrinking consistently. The more diversified your portfolio is, the better you will end up being. Of course, sponsorships and and endorsed product endorsements, there’s big money in that category. For those who are comfortable with endorsing a brand or working with a brand and doing sponsored posts, that’s a great way. For those who are interested in doing that, the more diversified you are in different mediums, the better you are, the valuable you are. If you can do writing, photography, styling, radio, podcasts. Not run a podcast but be a good guest on a podcast or appear on television, public speaking. The more mediums that you can master, the more valuable you are to your company as well as to potential brands that want to work with you.

Bjork Ostrom: I have heard this term before and I love it because it just sounds so awesome but they describe those people as predators. They are people that can write, they can photograph, they can be in front of the camera, they can be on a podcast and in a lot of ways, they were were talking about this in the context of journalism, how journalists are starting to have to be predators. I think that’s really true for food bloggers, which kind of sounds like Alien versus Predator.

Jaden Hair: I prefer to call it multi-talented.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. That would be another way.

Jaden Hair: Or multi-medium.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s so true and so important.

Jaden Hair: I’ll tell you that the secret sauce to Steamy Kitchen how we grew so fast is because I can do public speaking in front of a thousand people, I an do live television, I can do taped television, radio, i can write, I can do some food styling, I can do photography. That’s what I focused on in the very, very beginning of Steamy Kitchen is the more talents I have, the more mediums I can command, the more money I can make.

Bjork Ostrom: Let’s say there’s somebody listening right now that feels comfortable maybe writing and they can take pictures but they don’t feel entirely comfortable with that. How do they start to take steps to becoming more of a multi-talented person or a predator?

Scott Hair: That was actually one of the things I was just going to mention. If we go back what is it, eight years now when Steamy Kitchen started and if you ask Jaden how many of those things she knew how to do, I bet you she would say …

Jaden Hair: Not very many. Eight-and-a-half years ago I didn’t know how to do any of that. I had to learn on my own. The easiest way is to find a mentor, be an intern for someone to learn a craft. There are so many online courses between Creative Live and Craftsy for photography or public speaking. I think Creative Live has some amazing classes on how to do public speaking. Take classes at a local place to learn how to do television. Those are things … It’s not that hard, with our resources these days, it’s not that hard anymore.

Bjork Ostrom: I think the resources are there but, Scott I’d be interested to hear you talk a little bit about what it takes to actually move forward on those and I know that you have a history of coaching people through, working with Tony Robbins, coaching people through barriers. I know a lot of times people will maybe have these resources, a lot of times will even sign up for them but they don’t take action on them a lot of times because of a fear that they face. Do you have any advice for people that know where to go but are having issues moving forward with that?

Scott Hair: Wow, that’s a loaded question. There are lots of ways I could go with that. The biggest thing that comes to my mind is people think that something is going to happen if they fail or something is going to happen if they succeed in doing something or something is going to happen. It’s a preconceived notion and that’s a lot of times what holds them back from actually to trying succeed or fail or make progress. That preconceived notion is often holding people back. What I tell people is that courage is not the absence of fear but the idea of just taking action despite the fear. Just taking a step forward.

A lot of times what I tell people when I start working with them is to think about someone else that is already doing this. Like Jaden said, find a mentor. If you can’t even get in contact with a mentor to do that, actually think about the idea of just modeling what they’re doing. Watching what they’re doing, try to find out information about them. I know Jaden spent a lot of time modeling people who were on TV when she was getting first ready to go be on TV. She would literally watch TV and record it, you know presentation. Then literally try to copy and imitate some of the things they were doing.

Jaden Hair: I was taught by Rachael Ray, actually. No, actually I have a method for this.

Scott Hair: Go ahead.

Jaden Hair: Do you mind if I interrupt?

Scott Hair: No, go ahead.

Jaden Hair: Okay, I’m going to interrupt real quick. I call it mirror, mimic, and make it your own. If there’s any skill I want to learn, I’ll just TV for an example. When I was invited to be on television, I had no idea what I was going to be doing. I didn’t have a medial trainer. All I had was my own television and who I really admired on television and their energy and their spirit and the way they connected with people across the screen. The first step is to mirror. What I would do, it’s just like a mirror, I would everything, I would try to mirror exactly what someone on television was doing. Even through the body language, the hand gestures, the facial expressions and practice it in private in front of a mirror for a while until I finally kind of got the hang of it.

The next step is to mimic. Now I’m not mirroring anymore and I’m kind of adding a few thing that are kind of mine own and I’m more like modeling or mimicking somebody and I keep practicing in front of a mirror, practice in front of a camera. Pretty soon, those actions become more natural and more fluid and that’s when you make it your own. Once I got comfortable with holding my body this way, standing in this position, smiling at the camera, giving eye contact to the camera while cooking in front of a stove, then I started having my own style and that made it my own.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome and a huge take away and I think good for people to know because I think sometimes what can happen is you can get into it and feel like you have to be your own right off the bat and that’s really intimidating when you don’t have that path that you walk. Once you’ve walked that path, established the routines, feel normal then you can start to play with it a little bit and really come into your own. I think that’s really awesome advice.

Scott Hair: I would even add the analogy of when you first learn t play piano, the first thing you do is you spend all your time playing scales and playing music that other people have written and your supposed to play it in a certain way as written on the music page. Eventually, you get to the point where you’re well versed in it that you start making your own, you start adapting it to own style. It’s a natural progression of things that we do. I would even go a far as saying walking and speaking and all those things that we learn naturally is the exact same process of mirror, mimic, and then make it your own. Do it naturally, it’s something we do naturally so just take advantage of it and apply it to something that you don’t have the skill set yet and that you want to master.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I think that’ll be really helpful for people.

Jaden Hair: Another way to gain some confidence, we talked a little bit of confidence prior to recording this, before we started. Another way to gain a little bit more confidence, you know as a blogger I work out of my home and I’m lucky to have Scott here to bounce ideas off of but a lot of times to be able to make decisions on my own or be able to evaluate an opportunity on my own, it can be quite intimidating and scary. I have an imaginary board of directors and on it, well I used to have Martha Stewart but she’s kind of out now.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, insider trading.

Jaden Hair: After that whole jail thing, she’s out. I filled my board of directors with all these amazing people that I don’t know, I’ve never spoken to but are people that I really respect. Actually, on my board of directors was people that have been awesome at business, people I respected. There was also my dad was on my board directors although he still doesn’t know that he was. Anytime I have a tough decision or if I need to evaluate something or ask myself, is this the right thing to do or what should I do next, I ask my imaginary board of directors and gosh, what would Oprah do? What would my dad do? What would my grandparent do? It helps me not feel so alone and it helps me get out out of my own head.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. One of the things you had mentioned before, the confidence piece. I’m remembering back to when we chatted a little bit before pressed record, we were talking about in the context of negotiation. I’d love to talk a little bit about that because I know it’s a really important topic for people. We’re going to go jump back a couple of questions and we’re going to talk about that income questions, the different ways that you can create income from your blog. I want to focus on the sponsorship/brand relationship type of income that’s possible for a food blog. Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like for a flood blogger first of all for those that are unfamiliar and then how somebody that is producing food-related content can work with a brand and price their content what it is? Whether it’s a You Tube video, a blog post, I know that that’s a scary topic for a lot of people and a lot of questions around that.

Jaden Hair: You know, the funny thing is when we first started Steamy Kitchen, I knew from day one of starting this blog that I wanted to build a business around it. I’m like, God this is so much fun I would love to build a business around food blogging. Back then, there were only a handful of people that were doing it full time as a business and Elise of Simply Recipes who you just spoke with was one of them. She became one of my mentors, she’s amazing. Back then, the word money and blogging was so taboo and nobody would ever talk about it. Within six months of Steamy Kitchen, I got an offer to write a book, a book offer. I had no idea was this is a good offer or a bad offer and started asking around and the people that I knew who were bloggers and had book deals I said, what do you think of this? Is this good or is this good or is this bad? Give me some way of measuring or judging this dollar amount and nobody would give me a straight answer.

When we run Food Blog Forum and the Kitchen Table Master, we make sure we can talk about hard numbers without feeling intimidated or scared because a number is just a number. The amount of money I make does not define me as who I am as a mother. It’s not who I am as a wife or as a human being. That has nothing to do with who I am and what I’m worth. There’s a big difference between worth as a human being and worth as in how much is my work worth. There are very two distinctions, two definitions and so we’re just going to focus on how much is my work worth.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m so glad you said that.

Jaden Hair: Take a step back and divorce yourself from that dollar amount that is not equal to who you are, what you’re work. In talking about what is my work worth, well if I really had to break it down into simple, simple terms, it’s how much time does it take me to do something and how much I want to charge per hour to do it. The other side is, well we do service so the hourly rate makes sense but we also have an asset, which is the blog like a newspaper or a magazine. When you’re advertising in a magazine or a newspaper or on television, you get paid per impression or the run rate. I take those two numbers, my hourly rate and divide the job into small chunks and okay, how many hours is it going to take for me to brainstorm? How many hours for client relations? How long does it take for me to test the recipe and styling and photography? If I’m doing video, how long does it take to shoot the video? I want to make sure that I’m paid fairly for my hourly work.

Now on the other side, the impressions it’s basically CPM. It’s the same industry standard that we’ve been using forever online, which is cost per thousand and how many page views do you get? What is the average number of page views for a sponsored post that you get and multiply that out by whatever CPM that you’re comfortable with. When you add those two things together is what the price that you … I’m very, very comfortable in pitching because one, I have it all backed up here. It’s not like I pulled this number out of my ass. I actually spent a lot of time breaking things down.

Actually, one of the most important things that I do when I’m negotiating with clients is, I show them my work. I always show my work. I didn’t pull this number out of ass, this is where these numbers come from and as you can see one, I’m a professional. I run this as a business, this is not a charity for me. I have to make money to support the business and my prices are very fair. I’m not over inflating anything. These are very fair prices and if you had to look back at my work, you’ll see everything broken down.

Doing that, having everything broken down like that gives me the confidence to say, you know what I’m going to charge you $10,000 for this project. That comes back to confidence. It’s hard to have confidence when you have no basis for it. The work is like the legs to my table. I have confidence in my numbers and how much my work is worth because here let me show you where I got that from. We have a worksheet that you can download at kitchentablemastery.com.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool, that’s awesome. We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes. Is that a public one or is that for members?

Jaden Hair: Yeah, it’s a public one.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. We’ll include the URL in the podcast notes. I think what’s so helpful for that is like you said, the foundation that you can provide for that where not only are you confident but you know that it’s going to provide a really clear outline for the people that you’re sending it to as opposed to sending some random number where it’s like …

Jaden Hair: Random number, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: We change $2,000 or we charge $5,000 but if you’re able to come to them and I really try to get paid let’s say … We’ve been talking to developers for some projects and they charge $160 an hour so they say, here’s what our hourly rate is and for people listening maybe you decide on $100 and you say I know that it’s going to take me three hours to do the recipe, two hours to photograph, two hours to draft the post, an hour to grocery shop and you add those up. Then the piece that I loved, Jaden that you pointed out was there’s also this asset with the blog where you say and then once I’ve been paid for my work there’s also this asset that I’ve been maybe working a year, two years, three years to build up where we have this audience, we have these impressions and that’s valuable for the brand and we charge this much for that interaction.

Jaden Hair: Yeah because you have to because that’s the difference between Pinch of Yum saying I want $5,000 to do this work versus a brand new blogger with no traffic saying that I want $5,000 to do this work. It might take him the same amount of time but the asset is the big difference.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s really awesome and super helpful. I know for us, this will be a podcast we refer back to often because we get that question a lot where people come to us and say hey, what do I charge for this? It’s like, oh it depends. That’s my best answer so far.

Jaden Hair: You know what another great thing about showing your work is, if the client comes back to you and says okay well, we can’t afford $5,000 how about $4,000? Then you can go back to the worksheet and say, okay we can do that but what portion would you like to cut out.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, that’s great.

Jaden Hair: That way you’re not giving up something for nothing. That way you can point back to okay, we can do less but let’s make sure that I’m paid fairly.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome, cool. We’re coming to the end here but I want to hit a few more questions. If somebody is just starting out, maybe they’re in their first year or they’re even within their first few months, what would you tell that person that’s just in the beginning stages of their blog that they should be doing today in order to set themselves up for success a year or two years down the line?

Jaden Hair: I have a good one, take the word blog out of your vocabulary. Don’t describe it as a blog. We know the word blog and it has a very specific format in our mind of what a blog looks like and once you get stuck in that format, you’re less flexible to be able to present information in a different way. One thing I think is really important is identity. If I’m starting a business, I’m a businesswoman, I’m a businessperson, I own a business and I’m a publisher. Now that feels very different than me saying well, I run a food blog. That comes back to confidence as well. As a publisher, I’m open, I’m always searching out new ways to present information, new ways to sell things or new ways to make money versus being in the confines of a blog format.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. You’ll have to help us brainstorm a rename for Food Blogger Pro. That’s one thing we think about often.

Jaden Hair: Oops.

Bjork Ostrom: No, it’s not at all. We think about it and talk about it all the time just the reality that as people’s presence becomes more distributed in different media platforms, it’s not just going to be blogs. It’s going to be video, there’s a social medial element, maybe it’s completely removed from the blog, you just communicate via email but all of those things are so important and so I’m glad that you made that point and I really think it’s true.

Scott Hair: I think the other thing I would tell people who are just starting out is pay more attention to others and less attention to yourself. Meaning listen to what people want and if you read your blog and it says I did this and I did that and my favorites and this and that, your focus is all upon yourself when actually what you’re really trying to do is serve other people and fill their needs. They want to know what’s in it for them. A great example that one of our members just came up with was she had her name and favorite things on her blog. It was a little section actually for Amazon and she changed it from that because it was focusing on her favorite things she said, your next favorite kitchen thing.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, cool.

Scott Hair: It was just a subtle shift but it makes all the difference because people are like, oh yeah I could see liking that and then they’re going to click on it more versus oh that’s just her favorite type thing.

Jaden Hair: I think what you’re trying to get to is the spirit of generosity. The feeling of a spirit of generosity. When you go to someone’s site without even scrolling and only looking at the big elements of the site, do you feel like this a website that has a spirit of generosity. Is this taking energy or is it giving energy. You want to be of course as a blogger, as a publisher you want to be giving energy. Words like me, my, I are focused on your. So switch the language around and focus on your reader.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. In the spirit of focusing on others, I want to focus on you guys a little bit as we are to the end of the podcast and first of all say thank you for coming on. It was packed full of information and I’m really excited to share this with the Food Blogger Pro crew. The one thing I want to make sure to take some time on is for you guys to share where people can find you, talk a little bit about Kitchen Table Mastery and the things that you guys have going on.

Jaden Hair: Sure, we have a mastermind that we run, it’s online and we focus on really two things. Number one is the mindset of an entrepreneur. Things that Scott has had years and years of experience with. He used to travel the world with Tony Robbins and be the lead trainer for the three-day seminars. A lot of things that we’re amazing at is understanding emotional drives of people that run their own businesses and helping them break through some of the fears, the fears of failure or some of the emotional roadblocks that get in the way. That’s one thing we focus on.

The other thing we focus on are the business strategies, things like how to negotiate better or perhaps it’s now to build a business plan, a one page business plan or how to effectively use social media while still hating social media and how to own the relationship with your customers. Those are the two areas that we focus on. We have a very active Facebook private group and the thing that makes the mastermind so special is once a week we have a webinar so it’s a live video chat with everybody, whoever wants to pop in. We talk abut a topic such as, what was the last top that we had?

Scott Hair: We talked about building momentum when things have been stalling out and you’ve kind of lost the drive to continue what you’re doing. I think tomorrow we’re actually doing one on security concerns of webpages and how to address that. We’ve done things on goal setting. We’ve done Facebook. We’ve done …

Jaden Hair: I like our goal setting seminars. We did that at the very beginning of the year but everything is all video archived so you can watch the videos over and over.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, cool and the idea is running a business from your kitchen table, is that right?

Jaden Hair: Exactly.

Scott Hair: Exactly.

Jaden Hair: Running a business so simple that you can run it from your kitchen table.

Bjork Ostrom: I love that visual. I think it’s such a great visual people and really cool. You guys do a great job.

Jaden Hair: That’s what we do.

Scott Hair: That’s what we do.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, you’ve done it. Scott, Jaden thank you guys so much for coming onto the podcast today. I really, really appreciate it and thanks for sharing all that knowledge that you guys have from doing this for years and years and years and doing it really well. I really appreciate it.

Jaden Hair: Thank you.

Scott Hair: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Bjork Ostrom: All right. Thanks a lot guys. Hachacha and hanana. How about that for an awesome podcast. Another big thank you to Jaden and Scott for coming on the podcast today. I really, really appreciate your time and all of the information that you shared. I know personally that I got a lot of out of it and I hope that you did too.

A few things before we wrap up, a few things that I want to hit on. Number one, as you know we always do a little plug for Food Blogger Pro. If you’re interested in starting, growing, building your food blog, I’d encourage you to check that out. As an aside, also check out Kitchen Table Mastery. As you can tell by this episode, Scott and Jaden both really know what they’re doing, have great advice, and are really inspirational individuals so I’d encourage you to check that out as well, kitchentablemastery.com.

If you would be up for it, we would really appreciate your time and your honest review of the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher wherever you listen to it. What that does is it provides feedback to the podcast engine, usually it’s iTunes that will help us show up higher if people search in the iTunes podcast area for a podcast, it’ll help us to show up higher and we just really, really appreciate that if you would be for that, it would mean a lot so thank you so much.

Lastly, we want to say thank you. We really appreciate the time that you put into listening to this. It helps us do what we do and we hope that it helps you do what you want to do. That’s a wrap for today’s podcast. Until next time, we will see you at the same place, the same time. Until then, have a great week.

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3 Comments

  1. I love all the podcast episodes, but this one was particularly great. It’ll get a few re-listens, I’m sure. 🙂

  2. This was a doozy of an episode. So glad I have worked my way back through the archives to hear this one. There is too much great info in it, and i will probably have to listen to it a second time to take it all in. Loved Jaden’s “find a need, fill a need” mantra! Totally great. Also the mirror, mimic, make it your own concept. Brilliant. Looking forward to checking out their mastermind group. Thank you Bjork for another great hour!