This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 428 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Liam Smith from the MealPro App.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Arman Liew. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Diversify Your Income with a Meal Planning Membership App
If you’ve been listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast for any length of time, you know how important it is to diversify your income as a food blogger. And one of the ways that you might consider doing that is by starting a meal planning membership app!
Liam Smith founded the MealPro App as a white-label meal planning app to allow food creators to easily (and affordably) personalize an app for their community.
Bjork and Liam chat about the process of developing the app, how food bloggers can monetize through the app, and the importance of surveying your community to better meet their needs.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- About Liam’s background in tech.
- What inspired him to develop his own meal planning app (the MealPro App).
- What no-code tools are and how we use them.
- All about his low-risk process for developing, testing, and marketing the app.
- How food creators might use the MealPro App to create a membership community.
- How to identify the problems or pain points your community needs help solving.
- The importance of surveying your audience to help refine your content strategy.
- What it looks like to start a membership through the MealPro App.
- How to monetize within the MealPro App (and how much money you might expect to make).
- MealPro App
- BBC Good Food
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
- Y Combinator
- Mind the Product: How I Built an App Without Writing a Line of Code
- MealPro App Masterclass
- WP Recipe Maker
- Kevin Kelly: 1000 True Fans
- MealPro App Pricing
- Follow MealPro App on Instagram
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
About This Week’s Sponsor
We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!
With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.
Sign up for Clariti today to receive:
- Access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing
- 50% off your first month
- Optimization ideas for your site content
- An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
- And more!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I. And I kid you not, I was going to record this half an hour ago, but I was in Clariti and realized there’s an opportunity for Pinch of Yum that is a project we should move forward with. So I created a video, communicated it with the Pinch of Yum team and said, “Hey, we should move forward on this and really get to work cleaning this up.” In our case, what I had done is I said, “Hey, show me all of the posts in the past year on Pinch of Yum.” And then I sort ordered that in reverse order by page use. So I was looking at pages that on Pinch of Yum in the last year, got zero-page views, and I realized we have a lot of really thin not valuable content and it’s important to clean that up.
In our case, we’re going to delete a lot of that content and we should have done that a long time ago, but we just didn’t get around to it. And it wasn’t until I was using Clariti that I realized that that was something that we should have done. I was able to see that. It’s a lot of old giveaway posts and things like that. So we’re going to move forward with that and clean up Pinch of Yum. And that’s what Clariti is for. It’s to help you discover that actionable information to create a project around it. And either you can follow the project or you can assign it to somebody within your team and then track the impact that that has by making notes or seeing when you made those changes over time.
We bring all the information in from WordPress, Google Search Console and Google Analytics. You hook it all up and then you can sort order and use Clariti, kind of like a Swiss Army knife for your content. So if you’re interested in checking it out, go to clariti.com/food and that will get you 50% off your first month. Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Emily Walker: Hey there, this is Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Today on the podcast, Bjork is interviewing Liam Smith, the founder of the MealPro App. Liam founded the MealPro App as a white label meal planning app to allow food creators to easily and more affordably personalize an app for their community without building an app from scratch. It’s a super interesting concept and Bjork and Liam chat a lot more about the creative process behind building the app and what prompted Liam to head down this road of building a meal planning app for food creators. Bjork and Liam chat about the process of developing the app and testing it and how food creators can monetize through the app, including some specific numbers and five steps to kind of getting started creating a membership app like this.
It’s a really interesting episode and might make you think a little bit differently about how you could monetize your brand and just another option for monetizing as a food creator. So I’m just going to let Bjork and Liam take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Liam, welcome to the podcast.
Liam Smith: Thanks, Bjork. Thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we have had multiple different conversations. You are, I don’t get to say this a lot, but occasionally, across the pond. So you are shifting your schedule. What time is it right now for you?
Liam Smith: It’s about quarter past six, so I would be having my dinner right now, but I can make an exception.
Bjork Ostrom: We extend our gratitude for you, skipping your dinner to be here on the podcast. It’s going to be a great conversation. We’ve connected multiple times before. We’ve talked about what you’re up to and we said, “Hey, you know what, let’s do a recorded conversation here, because what you’re doing is really cool.” You have some great success stories working with food publishers, food creators, and you have a lot of experience in this space, not necessarily in the food space, but in the world of creating product, developing products, specifically in the online world, digital media, digital content, software.
So before we jump into MealPro App, let’s talk about your experience and what led you up to this point. So before you had launched this endeavor, what were you doing?
Liam Smith: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, yeah, I suppose I started in tech maybe just over a decade ago. Out of uni, I got into a tech consulting job in London, not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I enjoyed it. Opened a lot of doors in terms of being able to try lots of different things and that’s really where I learned a lot about the software product development process. I’m not necessarily a coder myself, but I am the one who connects a lot of the dots between what customers are … people are looking for, the market and what is happening from a development point of view. And worked with some really interesting companies, from high street brands like Apple and Tesco in the UK, like supermarkets and high street chains.
Really enjoyed that, but then went out on my own to freelance so I could specialize in certain areas again, more on the product development side of things and freelanced for another five years. In between my freelance work, I started to work on looking at ways to eat better. It was a very hectic schedule working in London, long jobs, long commutes, and still very passionate about eating well, going to the gym, and the two didn’t really marry well, but then I thought, yeah, why-
Bjork Ostrom: The schedule of a freelance business and the margin you need to figure out how to eat well and exercise. And I think anybody listening can relate to that like-
Liam Smith: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: It was like an Instagram reel and it was something like me trying to keep up with work, keep my home clean, time with kids, get enough sleep, exercise, and it was like somebody keeping their … just their lips were above water and it’s like, I feel like we can all relate to that. So you were in that trying to figure it out. How do I prioritize eating well, exercise while also working a demanding job?
Liam Smith: Literally at one point I hired someone in India to help plan my meals week to week, which sounds a bit extreme, but I often think the best way in terms of developing software products, which would come on too later, I suppose so soon, is to try the process very manually. Yeah, I tried lots of other options like the food delivery boxes and all of that stuff and nothing really seemed to hit the bill. Then, I thought, “Yeah, okay, that sort of worked but didn’t work.” So when I tried to develop my own app, just a meal planning for me.
Bjork Ostrom: Before we get too far away from it. What did it look like to work with the person that you hired in India?
Liam Smith: Yeah, it was cool. I literally said go onto … I think it was BBC, Good Food, on the BBC Good Food website, filter by, I don’t know, main meals and maybe vegetarian and some of the categories. And it takes less than half an hour and there’s less than 10 ingredients and just pick four recipes and add them to my online shopping basket and check out and see how it goes.
Bjork Ostrom: What was that like? What’s great … one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is what are all the things that I do in a day that I don’t enjoy and it doesn’t matter if I do them. And there’s actually a lot of those things, like I’m doing a lot of stuff that needs to happen that I don’t enjoy and it doesn’t matter if I’m doing it, and it sounds like that for you was one of those where you’re looking at that and classifying it as this is something that takes up time into my day. I don’t necessarily enjoy doing it, so let’s experiment with having somebody come in to see if you can free up whatever it is, an hour or two hours to do something else.
Whether it’s work more and get compensated for that time or not work and just enjoy the time doing something else. What was the thought process and then, what was that like doing that?
Liam Smith: Absolutely, that was part of it, but it was also … I suppose I liked just experimenting with things, trying things, and I think on the back of, I think it was probably reading Tim Ferriss’s Four-hour Work Week as well, he talks a lot about using virtual assistants, obviously real P means, real people based often in maybe at the time, maybe India was a popular place, now the Philippines especially. And getting help on different tasks. I was like, I wonder if I could just try that and again then thinking maybe I could apply this to other parts and thought let’s just pick something, let’s pick the meal planning stuff.
And yeah, just tried it and it was good. I think anyone who runs even a small business when you have someone helping you with something, when you are doing something else, whether that’s because you’re asleep or you are working on something else and something else is getting done, it’s such an amazing feeling and yeah, it can be literally one person or a whole team, it’s just-
Bjork Ostrom: Psychologically, there’s something that feels really good about it. Even the building that we work out of here, I get that little ping whenever the lawn company comes and they’re like mowing and it’s like, “Wow, this is so cool. Something is happening here and I don’t need to be doing it.” And once you feel that, it’s a great feeling to figure out how do you figure out how to scale that, especially in a scenario I think of working with an accountant as an example. We have somebody on our team, Pat who’s a fractional CFO. He loves numbers. He loves spreadsheets. So not only are you not having to do something that you don’t enjoy, for me … Actually, it’s not that I don’t enjoy that, but the process of compiling those numbers, I don’t enjoy it.
Analyzing, I do, but not compiling them. He likes that process and what a win-win to get rid of one of those things that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Somebody else maybe does enjoy that, they’re able to pick that up and do that.
Liam Smith: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that was a large part of it. And again now, it’s made me a lot more confident hiring. We use a lot of people on say, Upwork, freelancers for specific jobs now, and it’s made me a lot more confident doing that. And I think again, maybe we’re talking about … maybe we’ll talk sort of tips and things later, but just trying things and getting confident doing things. Yeah, it’s always just been a big part of what I’ve tried to do I think, and following that. It sort of worked quite well with the assistant and when I had a little bit more time in between one of my freelance projects, I thought there’s these no-code tools coming out that allow people like me to build software products. Still fairly steep learning curve, but nowhere near as much as say, learning to code.
Bjork Ostrom: And can you talk about those who aren’t familiar, the idea of no-code and maybe an example of what one of those tools is, and I think just more and more of those are going to be available.
Liam Smith: Yeah, I think a great example really is WordPress, I suppose to some extent is sort of no code tool that allows you to basically generate code without actually coding. That’s basically what you’re doing when you’re using something like WordPress. And I think it’s just getting, the editors that you see in those tools are just getting more advanced. So for example, you’ve got WordPress now, then I think you’ve talked about Webflow before in the podcast. Webflow is built … I suppose it could achieve a similar result to WordPress, but it’s designed with editing in mind of the entire … you can edit everything on the entire site like a developer could almost, but without ever having to touch the code by dragging things and just changing little settings and things.
Again, you still have to learn it. A really popular one is called Bubble, bubble.io, I think is the website. That’s the most popular one for building web applications. And again, it’s all like a, if this happens and this should happen, there’s a really simple database you can create in all of this. And then again, this sort of drag and drop user interface builder and things like that and you can get more advanced with it. And that’s what I used to build my first meal planning app. And again, I was using that as a sort of learning experience. I knew these things were happening in the software space, that’s where I worked. It was a good thing for me to be able to talk about with clients I was working with, as a freelancer, also I learn from, I built a meal planning app.
Used that for a little while with the same recipes I was using on BBC Good Food. And again, because I knew what process worked with my assistant from a very manual point of view, I was then able to automate that process with software, which again is probably the best way to develop software in my opinion because you work out what works and what doesn’t, before you actually then build it because the building takes a little bit longer.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think it was Paul Graham maybe who is this … for those who aren’t familiar, started accelerator for startups called YC and talks about doing things that don’t scale. Does that sound right? Was it Paul Graham?
Liam Smith: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: I think about it in the context of Groupon and they talked about in the really early stages of Groupon, it was like an Excel spreadsheet. They were doing it all manually. And like you said, the great thing about that is you’re not building this massive software tool that’s super expensive. What you’re building is a process and data management, which essentially is what software is or a lot of times that’s what software is. It’s a process and data. And so you’re thinking about, okay, what is the process, how does the data flow? And you’re being able to get really close to that. And then, the next step it sounds like for you in this specific scenario was to put that into something that was more of a software tool.
But not having to go through the actual technical build, but using a tool like Bubble to build that first version of the frame that you wanted to put all of that data into. All around, and I think what’s great about this is this kind of experimentation and curiosity that you had around your own problem, and my guess is along the way, were you also curious maybe this is also a problem for other people or at what point did you realize that there was a market need for this specific area beyond just your own curiosity and own needs?
Liam Smith: Well, yeah, just to finish off, so the meal planner I built, I did think, well maybe from … maybe other people would like to use this for their own meal planning. So I created a little brand called Almost Vegan, and then I went on a few vegan forums and shared this. And when I say Almost Vegan, I mean most of the recipes were vegan with some vegetarian recipes in there, a few meat recipes because myself and a lot of people, certainly in the UK, and I think a bit of a global trend perhaps is eating less meat as opposed to going full vegan. I want to say full vegan, I mean not from a … what you consume point of view, I understand philosophically there’s differences and I think at the time, I didn’t understand that. So there was a lot of people got very upset with me.
Bjork Ostrom: Insulted some people.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like for somebody who’s yeah, vegan to say you’re almost vegan, I would imagine there’s some, people being like, that doesn’t exist.
Liam Smith: Exactly. Yeah, I learned that the hard way and yeah, some uncomfortable conversations, we’ll put it that way, but I totally get it. That was quite an interesting story. So I parked that, but then I wrote an article about it on a tech blog called Mind The Product, about how I built an app without code. Again, not many people were using these no-code tools. Then, I started getting a couple of messages from food bloggers and one or two health coaches, which I was surprised about because the sort of stuff they were searching for when I was asking them, this was appearing on page four or page five of Google. So they were looking for it and they were saying, |I’ve seen your article about how you built an app. Can you just build me an app just like it?”
And I was like, “Well. I can.” My freelance work was going really well. I’m starting to actually do some subcontracting, sort of almost building a small agency around it. So had no inclination to stop doing that. So I provided a custom quote. So I said, yeah, let’s get on a call. Tell me what you think you need. I speak to … at this point, it wasn’t in no code. I was speaking to a developer I’d worked with about building out a custom project for them. It was maybe $20,000, which is cheap for a decent software product. $20,000 is cheap for a custom app-
Bjork Ostrom: Because you’ve seen that, you’ve been in that world and you’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent.
Liam Smith: Easy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Liam Smith: Easy. If you want something good quality, that’s going to … yeah and then, that’s just the upfront costs. Beyond that, he’s then looking at monthly … I’m speaking to someone today about this over email and the hidden costs in software and never talked about, I don’t think especially with software development agencies who just want to take your money, give you a product, and then maybe charge you your ongoing support costs. So anyway, I provided custom quotes and I think one of them was coming at $15,000 for a super fee, a fairly basic version. And they’re like, that’s way too much. I’m used to spending a few hundred dollars on a subscription fee for whatever plugins and stuff I use and all of this.
I was like, “Fine. Okay, cool.” Yeah, I got a couple more messages and it’s like, well, maybe actually a subscription product is the right thing here for these people. They don’t feel comfortable spending so much as an upfront thing. So at this point I just went, “Okay, let’s test it.” I spoke to someone on Upwork, a copywriter. Again, I was busy with my freelance stuff, so I said, “Look, I’ve got all these notes from a few conversations I’ve had. This is what I think they want. Just write me a really simple landing page, a nice little headline, a couple of placeholders for images.” Got that. I spoke to a designer who then just gave us a couple of mockups for a generic meal planning app with your brand here, your logo here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liam Smith: Yeah, then got it built in, I think we used Leadpages or something, again someone on Upwork. All in, probably cost about $1,000 for all of that work and sent it out to people I’d spoken to. And my sister actually helped me with a Facebook ad campaign. We spent about $400 on Facebook ads and got about 100 signups in terms of I’m interested. I was like, “Okay-”
Bjork Ostrom: I just want to pause real quick right there because I think one of the things that’s great about that part of your story is you can kind of see there’s this interest, you can kind of see there’s this need, there’s something there, there’s a mismatch in initially coming in and saying, “Here’s how much it would cost,” but it’s not like you then threw it out, but you also didn’t say, “I’m going to spend 40 hours on this.” It’s kind of like, what’s the next smallest step that I can take to explore this idea? It’s not exactly the same, but one of the conversations Lindsay and I are having are like, should we do a kitchen remodel or not?
And it is super expensive and it’s a really hard decision to do a kitchen remodel or not, but the easiest next step for us was why don’t we pay somebody to do some designs and SketchUp to see what it might look like as a next step. And it’s easier to say yes to a small kind of experimentation versus this really big endeavor. And it’s also testing to see if there’s a need. Are people actually interested in this? So you’re kind of validating the idea and doing it in a way where you’re preserving your main source of income as a freelancer and using some of that income to pay somebody else to do the thing.
So that can continue to move forward, which I just think is worth pointing out for anybody else listening, who’s thinking about the different ideas they have or maybe they’re excited about a certain opportunity, but you don’t have the time. Find somebody who does have the time and see if possible trade dollars for time and even better if you can do it on a global scale looking at Upwork or something like that, just to keep things moving. And I think that’s such a huge part of it, is to not let an idea get to the back burner where it just sits there, but how do you keep things moving even if you don’t have enough time for it? And a great way to do that is work with people, whether you find them through family, friends or a global market like Upwork.
Liam Smith: Yeah, some amazing freelancers on Upwork. Fiverr is another one if you know what you’re looking for, but Upwork in particular, I like. Yeah, almost anything you need and almost any budget as well. And I think trying … like you said, trying to do the smallest thing. For me, it was … Again, my freelancing stuff was going well and I was having to … I was trying to find reasons not to do it, if that makes sense. And everyone is always like … the problem I have with software was I don’t know, anyone starting a business or thinking about what to do next, it’s always starting with an idea. In this case, I sort of started with a problem, which was people getting in touch with me saying they needed something, they couldn’t afford it.
So how can we solve that? Then yeah, it was very much trying to find reasons for me not to go ahead with it, if that sort of makes sense.
Bjork Ostrom: It wasn’t … which is a great position to be in. You’re not trying to convince yourself to do it, you’re trying to convince yourself not to do it and having a hard time coming up with an answer.
Liam Smith: Yeah. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, which is the flip side of how people often approach business, I think is like I have this great idea and people are like, “Oh, you sure about that?” Would that make sense? And they’re trying to justify why they should do it as opposed to you saying, “I don’t think I should do this,” but people continually coming to you and being like, “Hey, actually this would be really helpful. Can you help me figure this out?”
Liam Smith: Yeah, and I will say like, I’ve only learned that from doing the opposite like way too many times.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, Yeah.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. So at some point you say, okay, I’m going to take this from experimentation, $1,000, $2,000 to kind of see if people are interested, you validated it, people have signed up for the list. They’ve expressed interest, but you also know there’s this gap in pricing, but you’ve kind of identified a problem and verified that people want a solution to that problem. At that point, did you know what it was? What would you be able to identify that problem as, what was it?
Liam Smith: At that time, and even now on our website, it might change by the time this recording comes out, it was very much framed as a software problem, like I need a meal planning app, a recipe planning app with my brand that I can launch and use to run my membership on. Now I much more think about what we do as helping food creators to launch and scale memberships by repurposing their existing content. I suppose to add to that as well is without relying solely on ads. I know a lot of people are maybe looking at diversification or it’s becoming a more prevalent topic.
At the time, it was very much framed as, can you build me an app like this? And we went through what they think they needed to do. One person I spoke to actually had an existing PDF based membership, which made the process a lot easier. So again, it was sort of mapping the existing process based on a PDF based membership, understanding what the problems are with that, which are like, “I can’t edit servings on a PDF. I don’t want that recipe, but I can’t figure out on the shopping list what I need to take off.” And things just increase churn with the PDF based membership. So how do we make it scalable in the sense that people are going to just serving what recipes, just that’s the sort of minimal viable product we’re aiming for.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So if I could recap the timeline, let me know if this feels accurate. So you’re in this world of software development, you know the world, you also are in this world of personal optimization. So you’re thinking about how do I make it easier for myself to eat well and to plan my meals? Those things kind of converge and you’re like, “Wait, I think there’s an opportunity for me to build for myself a solution around this problem,” which you did within Bubble, you wrote about it, which I think is a really cool thing. You’re kind of working in public and I think sometimes we think more people are aware of what we’re doing, but usually they aren’t.
You have to talk about it in order to get it in front of people and for people to be aware of it. So you write about it. You start to get some interest, which I’m guessing was kind of interesting, like not the original intent, but then you pull at that thread a little bit and say, “Okay, what can we do here? What’s some solution?” In order to test it? You create this kind of very low risk site with copy from the transcripts, from the conversations you’ve had. Somebody kind of compiles that, puts that together. You test it with some Facebook ads, small run of Facebook ads, “Oh, some people are interested.” Now, we’re at the point of investing a little bit more into the development of this as a potential business idea. Is that right?
Liam Smith: Yeah. I actually went a step further and I sent out a link. I say, “Look, you can have a first year’s membership for like $500 all in,” and you get to be a early bird customer, I called it, which basically means I would take their inputs to build the first version of the product. So I framed it very much as you basically get a custom-built app for like-
Bjork Ostrom: For 500 bucks.
Liam Smith: Yeah, and I had two customers who signed up and then, gave me money before anything was built, which I was like, what?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liam Smith: Okay. Okay. I can’t believe you’re just giving me money and there’s no actual products, but great. Then, from that point, I was able to basically build the product around what they needed and the customers were slightly different. One was definitely more in the food blogging space and I guess what you might call more influencer in terms of content creator, sort of bigger brand on social media, et cetera. The other one was more focused on smaller scale health coaching, smaller group of customers. They have an existing practice, not practice, but client base and they want to grow. So it’s two of different needs, but where it overlapped was the product. So we’re able to go, “Right, this is what we need to-”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. They could both … or a different product that they’re selling could use the same framework to sell it.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and the reason that I wanted to spend time talking through that is because it’s a little bit of inception, and that, your process of … and having learned that from doing a lot of product development, and when we say product development, we mean a digital product and developing that to a point where you can sell it, product development and customer development, which is that term can be used in different ways, but customer development in this context is essentially having conversations with your customers and understanding what their problem is, creating a solution for that problem and then selling it versus being like, I have the greatest idea ever. I’m going to come up with it.
Sometimes that works, but it’s better to go through the process of figuring out what somebody actually wants and then building around that, but I think what’s so great about your story is it’s a low risk, like there wasn’t a ton of cost with it, way to validate or shape an idea and then go through the process of seeing if people actually want to purchase that and kind of doing a little pre-launch to see, are people actually going to spend money on this? So for anybody listening who’s thinking about going through the process of doing that, that’s a great path to follow to not spend tens of thousands of dollars developing something that people don’t actually want, but still moving forward with the idea.
And the interesting thing here is you can do that if your product fits in within MealPro App, you can do that process using MealPro App, is that fair to say?
Liam Smith: Yeah. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And so I think what would be good in this next step is to talk about some of the specifics of what that might look like for somebody who is a food creator, and I say creator because you could have a blog, but the great thing about this is it now opens up opportunities for people outside of traditional advertising. A lot of people think about, I want to build a traffic and monetize that via ads, which is great, but what does it look like to then create a new source of revenue, if you have a ton of TikTok followers or Instagram followers. It’s harder to go through the process of doing sponsored content. A lot of people do that. You’ll work with a brand, but what does it look like to diversify that?
And creating product is one of those things that you can do. So what does that look like for the person who is the food creator? And I know that now at this point, you’ve moved out of … to complete that story, you’ve moved out of this stage of experimentation, validation, and you have creators and publishers who have hundreds of people who are signing up to join, maybe thousands, I don’t know, they’re making substantial income from having an app, from having a membership. So, you’ve seen some successes and some people who have done a really good job with this. Let’s talk about that. For anybody listening, what does that process look like if somebody is interested in getting started, and I know you’ve kind of outlined some tips for people to go through.
Liam Smith: Yeah, absolutely. So we have a masterclass recording actually with Taylor Stinson from The Girl on Bloor, on our website. So if anyone is interested in learning more, I would recommend going and checking that out. And I guess we’re going to link to it, whatever. To sort of summarize the process, I think very much similar to what we’ve talked about, what we’ve talked to from a food creator’s point of view, I suppose the first thing I would always ask is I suppose what do you already have? So what assets do you already have? Usually, I’ve got X amount of page views per month. I’ve got an email list of however many thousand I’ve got.
Maybe a social media following whatever it is. And it’s not necessary to say that you need 500,000 followers on Instagram. You don’t need an email list of 200,000 people. You don’t need hundreds and hundreds of thousands of page views a month to be successful. I suppose it all depends on what you judge success. We can talk about some specific numbers based on the limited data we do have, if that’s useful, but I think, like you said, the first part of the process is just understanding your customers in say your customers, your … it might be your readers, your email subscribers, your followers, whatever you call them. Your audience, understanding them in perhaps a new way. So it’s not just keyword research to understand what people are going to be looking for in terms of Recipe content.
And maybe you already do this a little bit, if you have a Facebook group or people respond to your emails, but getting to understand why they come to your blog. Yeah, they want to cook a particular recipe. Of course they do, but why do they keep coming back to you? Why do they sign up to your newsletter. Even not thinking about yourself so much? What is it, what process do they go through, day to day, week to week that is, for want of a better words, are painful or what you’re looking for really is the sort of the painful points in their week. And often, that Peter comes back to maybe meal planning thinking before you go to the shopping, the supermarket.
I was going to say the grocery store, but that’s very American to me, isn’t it? Yeah, I’ve started to speak an American like that.
Bjork Ostrom: If we talk long enough, you’ll have a Minnesota accent, not just sound American, but you’ll sound very Midwestern.
Liam Smith: I have, yeah. Yeah, I have-
Bjork Ostrom: This is a real quick aside. When I was a kid, we did a soccer, football, pick your word, but did a soccer camp and all the coaches came in from the UK and by the end, all of the kids had these unique accents that they had picked up from the coach. They so wanted to be these coaches, that they all kind of adapted their respective, like whoever their coach was and their accent. So maybe the reverse would be the same for you. You’ll end up sounding like you’re from the movie Fargo.
Liam Smith: Yeah. I think so. Yeah. What were you saying, so-
Bjork Ostrom: Grocery store, talking about pain points.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: The idea is what you’re trying to do, you’re not just trying to repackage something and sell it. It’s like through conversations, and this would be an interesting tactical question, how do you do that. Through conversations, whether that’d be … well, you can talk about it, but what you’re trying to do is identify either the thing that you currently do that people are like, “Oh my gosh, this is so helpful that you do this,” or the thing that somebody currently does that is a pain point in their week, in their day, in their routine or something they wish existed that doesn’t exist, you’re trying to uncover that. You’re kind of mining for it.
And that, correct me if I’m wrong, is the process of product development or customer development to really say what’s at the core here and what can we do to fix that? Is that right?
Liam Smith: Yeah, and you could go a step further and call it problem development. So I maintain a list and I’ll come back to some actionable points in terms of how to maybe start this process and we can talk to the whole process in a second, but I maintain a list for MealPro App. I call it 99 problems, and I try to just make a note when I hear something that’s quite emotive or reoccurs a lot, and I’ll just make a note, this is a really common problem and it might not be specific, it might not be something we can solve because I can’t solve everything, but it’s just really interesting just to get a picture of it.
And some of the ways that I’ve seen people do it successfully and some of the ways I always recommend when people ask, if you already have an engaged community or social following or whatever it is, some way of interacting with people and you’re already doing it, you might already have a good understanding of people keep asking me for meal plans or for a particular type of recipe or maybe more gluten-free options or whatever it is. You might already have a sense of that. Maybe just diving further in and just looking over conversations that have happened, seeing what’s going on in your Facebook group. If you don’t have that then … or maybe it’s not giving you too much information, then you can always try things like surveys, which could be thinking about something new.
Would like to just get a bit more insight into how you cook on a weekly basis or what’s the one thing you’d like to see more of from us? And just some generic sort of, what do you like about it? What keeps you coming back? What else might you need help with? I can probably come with some better questions, not off the top of my head.
Bjork Ostrom: The basic idea is you probably, for people who have been producing content for a long time, have had an audience for a decent amount of time, you probably have some level of intuition around what their problems are.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s more of the intentional process of reflecting on those and maybe even building a system or process for you, you have this sheet where you’re keeping track of those things being intentional with that, or if you’re earlier on, what you want to do is maybe more intentional outreach. And that could happen through email, like you said, surveys. It could also be like you go back and hang out with friends and you’re like, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this thing. What’s the worst part for you about the process?” Like meal plans, in this case. I’m thinking about doing a meal plan thing. What’s the worst part of the process for you? Essentially, you’re starting to shape and understand a problem that certain people have in a certain niche.
Liam Smith: Yeah, absolutely, and I think at some point, maybe like you said, you’ve already got a good inclination, you already have a lot of conversations to leverage. I would say ConvertKit or any email provider have templates for coming soon pages, takes all of about five minutes to set one up.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liam Smith: Just knock one of them up. If you need help writing the copy, just go on OpenAI.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. ChatGPT, yeah.
Liam Smith: Put some stuff in ChatGPT and yeah, just put something out there and just say, “Look, I’m thinking about launching this new thing.” It could be a membership, It could be a course, it could be whatever it is. What do you think? And just see, when people sign up, that then gives you an opportunity to then go back to those people and say, let’s get on a call or here’s a few more questions for you. And that’s when you can really dig and actually, for a lot of people, that’s probably the starting point I would say.
Bjork Ostrom: And it’s an interesting even initial validation step because if people are like, “Ah, I don’t want to get on a call,” it’s like the problem probably isn’t big enough to justify the time and energy that goes into creating a solution for it, but it’s talking through these tips or steps, kind of talking about five different steps. The first one, warming the problem and it’s more important than the solution in some ways, it’s a really clear understanding of the problem. And then, the step number two would be creating some way to more officially capture the audience that has that problem. And that’s when you’re starting to maybe shape what the solution might be. And all of this I think is worth mentioning.
What you’ve built as a platform is the thing that helps facilitate this for people, but what’s important is the platform plus what you put into it. So the process of working with MealPro App, that as a variable is going to be much more impactful if the offering that you’ve developed is compelling and helps solve a certain problem. So that’s kind of, to paint the picture of what we’re doing here is we’re talking about the best case scenario, and you’ve probably seen this with people you’ve worked with and creators you’ve worked with, who have a really well-crafted problem solution. They’re going to have much more success within the platform, not only from initial signups, but also getting people to stick around.
So the first step is forming the problem through conversations, interactions with creators, it could be DMs and Instagram conversations with family and friends. Step two, you do that very initial step into it. You create a landing page. You put some copy on it, you see if people sign up, you get some initial traction around it. Once you do that, what’s step three? You’ve kind of put up this page. You are able to interact with people kind of within the context of the problem. What does the next step look like?
Liam Smith: Yeah, I will say as well, step two, I’ve seen quite a few people just do an email and work successfully, like someone sent one out and said, “I’ve just had 34 people say they’re in,” and then they just get started with us. So yeah, in terms of working with MealPro App, in terms of a membership … I suppose the next step really, if you’ve got some interest, it depends how far you want to go with it. Like we did, you can just create a little Stripe link or something or PayPal link and say, “Look, early bird offer. Sign up now.” We haven’t built it yet, but you can get a year of subscription for like 50% discount or whatever it is.
You can do that. It’s not necessary, but I suppose at this step, the next stage is really to build something and to run it. You can run it as a beta. You can just start running it and learn from experience because the first version of anything, I think pretty much anyone built is never perfect, as I’m sure you can attest to, we can certainly attest to. And with MealPro App, if the solution you’re looking … let’s say the problem you’re looking to solve is you’ve got PDF based membership and people are really frustrated that they can’t adjust the servings or maybe you’re solving for, say the ad free, people really like your recipes.
They want to be able to search your site more intuitively or they don’t want to be bombarded with ads when they’re looking through recipes, when they’re cooking, et cetera. You decide maybe a membership service is the right one for you, the right solution for you. In terms of getting started with MealPro App, it’s very much a case of repurposing content. So for example, you can impart recipes from using a link or if you use WP Recipe Maker, you can do bulk imports. Seems to be the most widely used plugin from what I can tell, but I don’t know if that’s accurate. Yeah, so it’s really bringing in recipe content.
And then, I suppose what we’ve tried to do for people is to make the process of launching a membership in terms of the software. So having all the meal planning functionality, adjustable servings, automatic grocery lists, searchable recipe catalogs, everything is entirely brandable. So it’s your brand, you’re not uploading your recipes to another platform, another person’s platform, which I know there are some good solutions out there that reward people in different ways, but that’s not us. Yeah, so that process, maybe give it a few weeks typically to get that process up and running. And then all the while you can be teeing up working with your early bird customers.
Whoever said they’re interested to draw up interest, add them to a private Facebook group if you don’t already have one for example, just some ideas and then, get them invited, get them in and you can run it as a pilot if you want. It’s a common way to do it and then run it for one to two months, get some initial feedback based on what recipes they like, categories, things like that, and what they want in the meal plans, what they don’t want in the meal plans. Yeah, and just sort of iterate from there, I think is typically the process.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting how each one is a building block. So you start with shaping the problem or really in this case, it’s shaping what type of content you’ll focus on. If you know you’re going to be delivering recipes and meal plans within the context of an app like MealPro App, it’s like what types of meal plans are you offering? Is it like busy families who have kids and you want meals that everybody can make in under 30 minutes? You kind of provided those in your world what those filters were for the VA that you were working with to go … and essentially, what you’re trying to do is that at scale and say, “What am I going to do for the people that I’m creating this product for?”
So you understand the problem, you go into this testing phase, which is kind of step two, you launch the page. Three, we didn’t really spend a lot of time on this, but the idea of promoting it, putting it in front of people, seeing their initial interest in it. Four, and this is all kind of in the pre-stage, maybe doing a beta signup. We’ve done that with a lot of the things that we’ve built through the years, is like for the really early people, you give them a discount, knowing that they’re going to be able to shape the product, but also, it’s going to validate on your end that they actually need the product. Then, five goes into actually crafting the product and starting the process of selling it.
And at that point, you’ll have income. There’ll be money that will be coming in and it’s iterating and evolving, you’re not going to get it perfect right away, but it’s iterating and evolving. And it’s almost like going back to that customer development stage where you start to get feedback and insight from people. I think what a lot of people will have questions about is like, what does that actually look like once you get it into the stage where you’re bringing recipes in and you’re starting the process of importing those. And what you’re saying is you can manually bring recipes over. If you use WP Recipe Maker, you can import those over.
And at that point, you’re within the platform, MealPro App, and you’re shaping and adjusting all of the different parameters around what your meal plan offering would be. Is that right?
Liam Smith: Yeah, exactly. And we’ve built a platform and it’s still building a platform. We’ve got lots of ideas in terms of how we can shape it too, to make it more flexible, but it’s very customizable in the sense, like I said, branding is a given, so it’s entirely your branding, which is what white label means on our website at the moment. Then, in terms of shaping the recipe categories, the tags, the meal plan layouts, there’s different sort of settings for say, the homepage layouts and things like that. We’ve tried to make it simple enough and sort of rigid enough, that means you can actually get started realistically and start earning money from it.
And I think Taylor in the case study that we’ve got online. Did it in about six weeks from zero to $2,000 of recurring revenue in about six weeks.
Bjork Ostrom: So you had mentioned that before, her site is The Girl on Bloor.
Liam Smith: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And you said she has a masterclass, kind of talks about the process for it or can you talk a little bit about that?
Liam Smith: Yeah, I suppose I call it a masterclass. I didn’t know what else to call it, but it’s very much a conversation like this, but it’s sort of Taylor explaining her process from I want to do this thing, trying to monetize … Taylor, I suppose a lot of creators experienced issues with Instagram, maybe didn’t adopt video as quickly as they could have, so their engagement tanked. So stop getting traffic from that. There’s also issues in the past with Pinterest and Facebook and things as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Algorithms change, things, yeah.
Liam Smith: Yeah, and there’s just various things just like, we need to get something going. That doesn’t make me wholly reliant on this, these are … other people’s platforms for traffic and also ad revenue because especially now a lot of uncertainty. So Taylor did some of the surveying stuff. She’s speaking to people and then she found out about us and then the process from finding out about was having the first conversation, getting her stuff set up and launching, was about six weeks, I think she said. So yeah, it’s about 45 minutes, so much more in depth, and Taylor talks in more detail obviously, about all of those steps.
Bjork Ostrom: If people want to check that out, how can they … is that on MealPro App sites?
Liam Smith: Yeah, mealproapp.com and then, just a link to masterclass in the navigation. So yeah, that’s free. Just put your email in. I’ll send you the link to the recording.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and the H1 header on that is zero to 2000 a month in six weeks with a meal planning membership program, which is such a great deliverable number tag. And I think that’s what a lot of people are interested in. How much time will it take, what’s the potential upside on that? A lot of that is dependent on what your numbers are, what your following looks like. So can you talk a little bit about that? You had alluded to that earlier. I know it’s really hard to say, and a lot of it depends on how compelling is the offering that you develop to then put in front of your audience, but talk about how it works from a monetization perspective.
People understand ads. Okay, if I get a thousand page views on my site, I can earn anywhere from $15 to $35 or whatever the number is. What does the world of numbers and metrics look like in the world of membership or subscription like this?
Liam Smith: Yeah, in terms of monetization, like you said, memberships typically done on a monthly, quarterly and annual recurring basis, is typically the price plans people go for. I find people will often charge anywhere some sort of five to $20 a month and then, maybe annual discounts, maybe two months free sort of thing.
Bjork Ostrom: If you upgrade to annual, it’s less per month, but you’re paying in one single-
Liam Smith: Yeah, it’s typically what we see. Yeah, but I know I’m speaking to one or two customers are looking at charging a little bit more than that. And again, this comes back to the offer and what you include in that. So someone who’s doing a slightly more hands-off membership, you get recipes, you get meal plans, maybe. I suppose, sort of more hands-off membership might look like is recipes being published each week? It could be new recipes, it could be existing recipes you’re already publishing on your blog. You could have some premium recipes that are only available for paying members, and then maybe a meal plan published once a week, often on a Thursday because it seems to be a good time to do it ahead of people then going into the grocery store at the weekend.
So maybe sending out an email to say no new meal plan published. Then on the other end of the scale, we’ll get people who maybe are not quite in the coaching world, but getting a little bit more toward that. More hands-on advice. Yeah, exactly. Maybe you’re doing live Q and As, maybe you’re providing video walkthroughs of your meal plans or recipes or whatever it is each week. Maybe you’ve got a more interactive community and you’re checking in a lot more. Then, you’ve got sort of everything in between. And then again, I’m saying people are starting to look at maybe even pricing higher. And that’s when you start thinking about, okay, at the moment our software key is for searchable recipe catalogs without ads, meal plans, customizable meal plans and grocery lists and all that stuff baked in.
Then, adding into that other sorts of content that will solve a problem based around maybe educational content, online courses and things like that, a lot of people use maybe the Teachables or Kajabi’s and I suppose some of our customers still use Teachables and Kajabi. Some people switch from those software products and I suppose … again, this is something I’m looking for feedback on. So again, if anyone does have feedback, please drop stuff into the forum. You have to sign up today, so-
Bjork Ostrom: About your pro member. Great. Great.
Liam Smith: Exactly, but I feel like with the Kajabi’s and things, maybe they will, but I’d be very surprised if they ever go into the recipe and content and then food space. The content that’s uploaded into those platforms is just static basic content. That becomes a problem for people as their memberships grow and people get frustrated and churn because they can’t do anything with it. So in terms of monetization, yeah, there’s stuff you can do through our platform now, but also then adding it on other sort of educational … if you are say helping people in the vegan or plant-based niche. What does the first 60 days look like or 30 days look like?
That is a difficult process for people. So baking that in as part of the membership that helps people get people onboarded.
Bjork Ostrom: Your point is like if you’re new to being a vegan, if you’re almost vegan and you want to be full vegan.
Liam Smith: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Maybe part of what the membership is, it’s like higher touch and so then you charge more for it. And so maybe it’s calls that you’re doing or if it’s like a homesteading and you’re doing gardening, maybe you do a Zoom call and they show you your garden and you give feedback on it. Anything that’s like that, it’s higher touch. So point being from a monetization standpoint, you’re picking, “Hey, is this really basic and it’s not super involved and maybe the problem isn’t super compelling so it’s going to be a little bit lower,” or is it a really compelling problem that you have a really good solution for? It’s maybe a little bit higher touch.
You can scale that up and say it’s $50 or $50 a month, $100 a month. There’s a lot of variables to consider in the pricing, but what’s great is you can start to play the numbers game in a really unique way. I talk about Kevin Kelly a decent amount. He has this post called A Thousand True Fans. This is a great application of that idea of A Thousand True fans. And if you can figure out how you can create something in the world that is a solution for a thousand people, there’s what, eight billion people in the world. And if you can find a thousand people and create a compelling product for them, that’s going to be a solution that’s going to make their life better and they pay for it.
You can very quickly play the numbers game, if you don’t get there quickly necessarily, especially if you’re starting from scratch. You can quickly start to see how the numbers game can play out. If you have a thousand people paying $10 or if you have 500 people paying $20, that starts to be like you’re replacing your income. And that’s what’s so great about a product and a membership and a subscription business. What does it look like on the cost side of it? And I know that you’re still formulating what this looks like, but just generally speaking, how much does that cost? You talked about 15,000, 30,000 to create a custom app.
What you’ve done is solve for that by building a customizable app that people can then sign up for. So if somebody is interested in this, what can they expect from an investment standpoint, getting into it?
Liam Smith: Yeah, exactly. I think like you said, custom software, you can spend anything on it. You can spend as much as you want on it, but it’s often not just the financial overhead. So I’ve spoken with one or two fairly high profile food creators, I suppose, who have their own apps or have their own memberships. I’ve heard their name mentioned on the community, a fair bit and certainly after we launched a couple of people … these people got in touch and said, “Yeah, I wish you were around a year ago.”
Bjork Ostrom: So basically, so I didn’t have to have software that I was managing. My guess is, that’s what it is. Yeah.
Liam Smith: And it wasn’t the financial cost, it is the fact that they don’t want to be managing software, but I find it stressful enough and I do it. I’ve been doing it for over a decade. So that is a big part of the cost and the upfront cost in terms of building it is one thing, but ongoing, if you don’t keep improving and maintaining it after a year or two, it becomes out of date. And again, we’re speaking with another big membership at the moment who has their own app and they’re looking to switch away from having their own solution, even though they’ve already built it because they just don’t want to maintain it anymore.
In terms of setup costs, I suppose you mentioned something earlier about people starting from scratch. I suppose they’re not in the sense that most people listening to this probably already have some sort of audience, whether that’s an email list, people come to the website, social following, whatever it is and a decent amount of content, like at least a couple of hundred recipes, most likely. Some people have 2000 recipes, but you certainly don’t need that many. So in terms of that side of the cost and the content and the people that are potentially interested in this, that is there. I think then the additional piece that we’re trying to solve for and helping to solve for is the tool to … like you said, the software part of it.
So yes, you don’t need to go down the custom development route. You don’t need to spend 20, 30, 40, $50,000, whatever it is. You obviously can, but you don’t have to. From our point of view, yeah, we charge a monthly subscription fee so people don’t have to have a big outlay. So pricing is on the website at the moment. We are changing it at the moment, so it is going up slightly, but it’s still I think a fair reflection in terms of what it provides. And there is a small fee per subscriber as well. So the sort of thing, there’s a base subscription price, and then, there is a per active subscriber fee. So again, it only scales as you only pay more as you earn more, so hopefully-
Bjork Ostrom: The basic idea being like a base, hundreds of dollars, call it TBD in terms of what plan you’re on and to what scale of, you could sign up, and that covers your … my guess is it covers your cost of getting somebody up and running and you probably lose money in the initial stages of getting somebody up and running, but that is over time, it’s going to pay off. So hundreds of dollars, depending on the plan, and then every time somebody gets a new subscriber, a very small percentage of that, the percentage range depends on what the pricing point is. If you have a super high price point, it’s going to be a smaller percentage, but essentially it’s like a per subscriber. So it scales up, but the idea is, it’s low risk getting into it because you’re going to be paying this monthly thing.
And it only scales then as you bring more people on, which makes sense on your end because then as there’s more people, you’re accommodating, making sure that you’re giving them the attention and you have your own internal customer service, not for their plans, but you have customer service to make sure bugs are fixed and all of that stuff. So best place to see that would be mealproapp.com.
Liam Smith: Yes. Yeah, there’s a pricing page on there. And pricing as pretty much everyone listening to this has probably faced it at some point. If you’ve ever tried to sell even an ebook, pricing is the hardest thing to get, isn’t it?
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Yeah.
Liam Smith: It’s a continuing evolution, but the reason we sort of landed on the per subscriber fee is that … and already we’ve only introduced that very recently, but already you’ve started to have conversations with customers, which is about growth, because even my mindset and our team’s mindset is now not just on how can we just build a software product that people will pay for per month, but it’s also how can we help people grow their memberships?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Liam Smith: And I think a lot of it’s just trying to align incentives so everyone benefits when it grows. So yeah, it’s still quite new, but yeah, it seems to be working.
Bjork Ostrom: Still quite new, but also you have a handful of people. The example that we talked about was the girl on blower and having 2000 a month in revenue. You have some stories like that, and my guess is a lot that are above that as well. Do you have any information that you can share, generally speaking, numbers that you could provide, that help provide some context? I know it’s impossible to share specifics and-
Liam Smith: I’ve tried as best as I can, so this is-
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, because I think it would just be interesting. Yeah.
Liam Smith: Super rough and personally, I think the best indicator is maybe email subscribers and not just subscribers, but things like engagement will often be a better, but I’m going to use Instagram followers because it’s easy to get that data. So how much can you earn in quotes? So if you are anywhere between top of, I don’t know, not or 100,000 Instagram followers, and when I say Instagram, it could be another platform. Maybe you have a bit of a Facebook group, maybe you have a YouTube channel, whatever it is. Yeah. So you should be looking anywhere between top of 100 to 1,000 members, I would say.
And I mean you could even say up to 50,000 followers. I would say I’d be looking up to anywhere between 100 and 500 hundred members in your membership to start. Anyway, if you’ve got 100,000 maybe looking up somewhere up to 1,000 members. And that’s a very broad range and that’s intentional because again, it comes back to sort of how we’re helping people and-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and what your product is and also what type of content you produce.
Liam Smith: Exactly, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: How broad is your content? If you have really broad content, that’s not specifically solving a problem, it’s going to be harder to sell, if you have … if your brand is all around how to become vegan, then that’s really specific and those people are coming to you for a really specific reason. An example we’ve used in the past, we’re not in this season, but you’re coming up to this season, it’s … what is her name? She does content around how to get your baby to sleep. And she has this … it’s super compelling. She’s really good at it and has products that she sells around it. And it’s a really specific pain point. That’s a scenario where it’s like all of that stuff matches up really well because it’s specific.
It’s helpful, it’s compelling problem, people need a solution for it and they’re willing to pay for it. So, the closer you are to that, my guess is what you’re saying is the higher conversion will be on your audience because the need is stronger.
Liam Smith: Exactly, yeah, and I think in that sort of range, I think Taylor’s a good example. Let’s say you get to 500 members at say, I don’t know, for ease of maths, like $5 a month. That’s two and a half thousand dollars additional recurring revenue, which should be achievable, I think for most experienced food bloggers. Then, it can go up, we have one customer in particular I can think of that has about 100,000 just over Instagram followers, but as a membership of over 1,000 people. Again, super dialed in terms of what they do. Yeah, I think then if you’re looking anywhere in the sort of 100,000 to 500,000 followers, I know these are super broad ranges.
So yeah, I can try and get a bit more specific if it helps. Again, anything from your 500 members, looking up to typically maybe around 2000 members. Again, ranges talking two and a half thousand dollars up to, depending on what you charge, closer to $20,000, which again, we have customers at both ends of that spectrum, depending on what they’re doing. And then 500,000 plus really you should be minimum looking at, I would say 100,000 but we have people much higher than that in terms of the number of members they have. And in terms of how much they charge and they’re making, I think we have people who are making $20,000 plus a month and probably one customer who’s making quite a bit more as well.
Obviously, that’s not going to be everyone. Some people have really big audiences on certain social platforms or whatever it is, and that does help. Also then, what I find most interesting is the people with around 100,000 followers on Instagram, and again, maybe an email list to be at least half of that, perhaps, who are coming in straightaway, 500 members then growing it to a thousand members. And I’m really interested in how they’re just focusing in on not doing too much, but helping people with a specific problem, creating some really good recipes that solve their problem. They’re promoting it regularly and they’re converting people and they’re keeping people in terms of keeping people engaged.
And maybe there’s a small community, Facebook community, they don’t even have to be in it. Sometimes they have assistance to help with that stuff. Yeah, I don’t know if that’s useful for people or if it’s more-
Bjork Ostrom: It is useful, and I think it helps provide … yeah, you can wrap a disclaimer around it and that, it depends on essentially everything, but I think what’s helpful is that those are actual numbers that you’re seeing, and I think that’s what’s interesting for people to hear is what’s actually happening. It’s not like you could have a meme account of a million followers and then, that’s not going to convert very well on anything because there’s not a lot of connection. It’s not you as an individual or like we said, it could be the opposite side of it, but it almost provides a little bit of like, “Hey, what could be possible if some of those variables did align?”
And a little bit of a stretch goal of like, “Hey, if I’m looking at the engaged platforms, Instagram, email, YouTube, what would a 1% conversion on that look like?” So you have 100,000 people, a stretch goal, if you have a really compelling product, a really engaged audience, 1% of that, so you could maybe have 1,000 people. Of that, 100,000 who become paying subscribers. And I think in general, that’s a good number. And I’ve also heard it talked about where you can take then … of those thousand people, there’s probably one to 10% of those people who would be interested in a tier above that. So maybe you have a conference and you get together in person and that’s when you can really start to think strategically beyond just selling your content as the thing.
For a lot of us, what we’re doing is we’re just selling our content. It’s like selling it against ads, selling it against sponsored relationships, but what does it look like to actually sell a product, and your content is kind of the top of funnel thing that brings people in. And then, you have something underneath that that you sell and it allows you to change how you treat your business, which I’m guessing a lot of people will be interested in doing. So my last question for you, Liam, as we wrap up is if people are interested in connecting with you, hearing more about how they can take the next step, what does that look like and what’s the best way to connect with you and your team?
Liam Smith: Yeah, so mealproapp.com, they can go on there and you can go on there and like you said, you can go on the masterclass link and you can download that and you can watch that, and we have some other content on the blog which talks about some of the steps in the process that we talked about. Yeah, but if you want to get in touch, yeah, just send us a message on the contact form or reply to the email that comes through when we send you the link. Either is fine. You can also try the product for free for 14 days on the website. Yeah, just go through the steps. You can have a look at it. I think there’s a demo video, it needs updating, but that’s included in there.
Also, like I said, I’ve just signed up in the Food Blogger Pro community as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. See you around.
Liam Smith: Yeah. So I’ll be lurking. So yeah, if there’s any questions, happy to start a thread or something. I know there’s a few names in there already I recognize, so we can do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Liam, thanks so much for coming on, sharing your story. We love to have you back again, talk about, there’s so many angles that we haven’t talked about on the podcast. Even like retention. We could do another hour long conversation on once somebody’s in, how do you get them to stick around? So we’ll have to have another conversation down the line here.
Liam Smith: Yeah, mobile apps as well. We’ve not talked about mobile. It’s a whole conversation-
Bjork Ostrom: And on and on, but thanks for coming on, thanks for sharing your story and thanks for creating such a great product for folks.
Liam Smith: Thank you.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hi. Alexa here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast, and if you want to go even deeper into learning how to monetize, grow your food blog, your food business, we highly suggest you check out our Food Blogger Pro membership at foodbloggerpro.com/join. It’s there that we share all of our course content about monetizing photography, video and everything that food creators need to know in order to move the needle on their business. We also hold live Q and As every single month, as well as study halls where we get a chance to break into small breakout groups and connect with each other in a really intentional way.
Talking about specific topics like creating recipes, keyword research and more. It is just one of the most positive places on the internet in my opinion. And we have a ton of testimonials from some of our members. We’ve helped over 10,000 bloggers do what they want to do better, and that just feels so good. So this testimonial from Tammy, from Organize Yourself Skinny says, “This month after 12 years, working full-time in higher education, I resigned from my position to become a full-time professional blogger. This was a decision I did not take lightly, but in the last seven months, I made more money blogging than I made in my real job and I decided it was time to take the leap.”
“I strongly believe that because of the knowledge you share within your income reports and also on Food Blogger Pro, that I was able to take my blog to a professional level. I have been and continue to be inspired, motivated and educated by the information you so selflessly and graciously share with all of us.” Thanks for that awesome testimonial, Tammy and we just so appreciate learning about your journeys and being able to just be a small part in helping you get to where you want to go. So if you’re interested in becoming a Food Blogger Pro member and getting access to all of the content we currently have for our members, which is a lot, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/join to learn a little bit more.
And get signed up there if you’re interested. Otherwise, we’ll see you here next week on the podcast and until then, make it a great week.