Welcome to episode 30 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork interviews a member of the Food Blogger Pro community, Nick Evans from Macheesmo!
Last week on the podcast, Bjork and Lindsay co-hosted the show and talked about the different phases that Pinch of Yum went through as it grew from a brand-new-baby-blog to a serious business. It was so fun to hear that once upon a time, a long, long time ago, the infamous Pinch of Yum was just a small baby food blog just like mine…. * sigh * To go back and listen to that episode, click here!
Blogging for the Long Term
Many of you listening to this podcast right now know Nick Evans from the Food Blogger Pro community forums. Nick is always a voice of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to other members on the forum.
What you might not know is that Nick has been doing this blogging thing for quite a long time – 8 years to be exact! And in this interview, he shares some really great realistic tips for maintaining a blog over the long term.
In this great interview, Nick shares:
- What it was like to be on the Food Fighters cooking show
- What he thinks the “next big thing” is for food blogging
- How he got started with making videos for Macheesmo
- How he manages to keep on top of everything he does
- His secret to blogging for the long term (over 8 years!)
- How he turned his hobby blog into a business
- His experience using Blab to connect with his audience
- How he decides which posts to update with new images, keywords, or graphics
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- What you should include in your Media Kit
- Chatroulette Parody of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball
- 028: How to Boost Your Blog’s SEO with Casey Markee from Media Wyse
- Macheesmo on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, Twitter
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 30 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey, this is Bjork Ostrum. You’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Today we have Nick Evans on the podcast from the blog Macheesmo, and I knew that it was fate that we talked today. I was reading a book this morning as I talked about at the end of the podcast, and the word machismo was mentioned. It’s not everyday that you see the word machismo, not spelled that way that his blog is, but nonetheless, it was there.
We’re going to have a great conversation with Nick. We’re going to be talking about things having to do with blogging, but specifically, we’re going to talk about blogging for the long term. Nick has been blogging for 8 years, and he does a really good job of it. I’ve noticed as he’s interacted with different people on the Food Blogger Pro forum, that he has a lot of wisdom, insight, and advice for people. I wanted to make sure that the broader Food Blogger Pro audience, not just members, had a chance to hear what he had to say. I’m really excited to have Nick on the podcast today. Let’s go ahead and jump in without further ado. Nick, welcome to the podcast.
Nick Evans: Hey, Bjork, how you doing?
Bjork Ostrom: I’m doing really well. Thanks for coming on the podcast today. I’m going to go back in time a little bit. It was probably not quite a year ago that we were at a conference. I remember we connected, and I don’t remember exactly where. It was maybe after a session or something like that, but I do remember that we had the privilege of riding one of those Disney human transporter pods together. I don’t even know what those are called.
Nick Evans: No, I think they’re called transporter pods. That’s the official term, and we’re going to go with it.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m going to go on record for that. That was Food Blog Forum, and obviously hosted at Disney World. Disney World? Disneyland?
Nick Evans: World?
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, thank you.
Nick Evans: Yeah, make sure you get that right.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, there are people that will send me not nice emails if I mess up the Disneys.
Nick Evans: They will. They will shut this operation down.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, I’m really excited to have you on the podcast today, Nick. We’ve actually had some people request you. You’ve been really active on the forums on Food Blogger Pro, and I’m going to bring some of those things up in the podcast and chat about that. Overall, I think it will be really fun to chat about what you do an what you’ve done with your blog, but before we get into it, I want to talk about something that’s not necessarily blog related. That is TV. You have experience with the TV show Food Fighters. I pulled up a little clip before the podcast. I watching it a little bit, and I was so impressed. Thinking back to … Sometimes people think that Lindsey an I are like a package deal for cooking, but I’m food illiterate. I don’t know anything about food.
I was on this morning news show stirring muffin batter, and somehow … I don’t want people to find this, but maybe they will … Somehow I ended up talking about websites and domain names and stuff. It was a total disaster, but you’re so smooth, and it went so well. It was so fun to watch it, but I’m curious. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like and how you were able to line that up?
Nick Evans: Oh yeah, well there wasn’t … Basically, I just applied. I wish there was some intense story, but I think it’s a good example of this was not a case where you have to no somebody or-
Bjork Ostrom: Have an in.
Nick Evans: No, they did not care that I ran a food blog. This is like NBC. They could care less about my little food blog. I basically just sent an email, and told them a little bit about myself, and see, I was on season 1. I think they just finished season 2, so this was like a year ago. It’s half luck I think. They were looking for an episode that featured a dad, a stay at home guy. I’m sure I checked some boxes that they were looking for, but basically, I just sent them an email. I thought I would never hear from them again. Then it was seriously like a 4 month application process. I had to do Skype interviews up the chain of producers. I had to cook a whole bunch of stuff on camera in my kitchen and film it and send it to them.
Then they flew us all out to LA, a small group of people to do in person interviews. I later found out that they had narrowed down an applicant pool of around 10 thousand people to 8. It took a long time. The show was super fun. It was a really interesting experience, cooking in a big studio was something I had never done. Cooking in front of multiple cameras like that was a really intense experience. Also, meeting people who you see on TV all the time is really weird.
Bjork Ostrom: Was there anything that surprised you about those things, things that were different in terms of what you thought they would be and what they actually were?
Nick Evans: Just that it’s weird to think that they’re just normal. Adam Richmond, they’re normal. They’re just fun, easygoing people generally. Then they can flip a switch, and they’re super professional. You kind of get a little bit taken off guard sometimes, because they’re really easygoing. Then all of a sudden it’s like, “Let’s do it.”
Bjork Ostrom: When the red camera light goes on-
Nick Evans: Totally, totally, but yeah, it was fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. One of the things that … and I think I maybe know the answers to this, but traditional media TV things like that and then new media, blog, Google website, things like that … Do you feel like that experience complemented you blog? How was it different or similar to what you thought it would be in terms of those 2 things connecting and potentially helping each other?
Nick Evans: It’s weird. I wish that they would have connected more than they did. I don’t think that they did actually connect that much, and people are surprised when I tell them that. I think there’s this initial thought of, “Oh wow, you were on a national cooking show. Obviously, your blog must be … You must have just experienced incredible growth.” The truth was that I checked my blog the next day, and it was the same. There was no really noticeable bump in traffic or anythings. It’s because it’s 2 different worlds. It’s 2 different audiences, and people that are watching late night cooking shows are not necessarily the same people that are going to be interested in cooking on a day to day basis. That’s kind of weird to think about, but I do think it’s 2 very different audiences. One’s in entertainment, and one’s a little bit more of a practical spin.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup, I’m so glad that you’re open to sharing that. That’s something that we’ve learned as we’ve gotten more into it. There’s such different worlds, and I think sometimes people feel like they want to so bad get on TV because that will obviously make their blog blow up. In some ways there’s’ this divide between them. I think one thing it can do is, you go to your site and you see that you were on this TV show. It’s great proof of this person is legit, and I think that’s the ultimate example of why something like that would be worth it if your focus is going to be on blogs or building a website or something like that.
Nick Evans: Maybe we’ll touch on this. We could talk about this maybe later. I don’t know, but 1 area that it is really helpful, and the same goes I think for writing cookbooks and stuff, is brands see it is as a win. They see it as like a little bit validating, so they will … even if you don’t have huge viewership numbers, but you can say, “Hey, I’ve been on these news sources,” or,“I know the local news production crew.” Sometimes, they will be like, “Oh, well we want to work with you, because you clearly are vetted a little bit.”
Bjork Ostrom: Right, it’s almost like the process of doing these other things it the background check. Some people are like, “Okay, good. I don’t have to do the background check.” Somebody-
Nick Evans: Somebody did.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, somebody else. Which is great, and I think it’s such an important takeaway for people. It’s kind of a virtual resume, so you’re building that as you have these experiences and stuff. Obviously, this was video on a very big scale, but did that experience pique your interest at all in terms of food video content for your site, or do you feel like that necessarily didn’t tie in?
Nick Evans: Yeah, it did. It’s so hard to relate, because you’re talking about a situation where they have millions of dollars. Then you get back in your kitchen with a little iPhone, and you’re like, “Okay, how do I even begin?” Definitely, I do think that video is the next big thing, and that’s something that I’m kind of actively working on is figuring out a way to integrate that into my site without spending thousands of dollars and giving people a quick little video of certain recipes. I have some long term projects of show ideas and stuff like that I’m working on, but in general, I think it’s just a totally different … It’s so different. It’s hard to compare the 2.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, for sure. That was kind of an intentional lead in question, because I actually pulled out some of your videos as I was doing some research.
Nick Evans: Oh, no.
Bjork Ostrom: No, they were really good. I’m serious. “Oh, you found those.” That’s what I’m going to say when people find them.
Nick Evans: It’s so funny, because it’s like obviously you found them, because they’re on the internet. I want people to find them, but then so I’m like, “Oh, boy.”
Bjork Ostrom: Nancy says that all the time when somebody … We’ll like get together with people, and they’re like, “We always make your XYZ.” She’s like, “Oh, no. I hope that it’s okay.” It’s the world that you live in, right. You put stuff online, but then-
Nick Evans: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: The videos are really well done. They were short clips, 60 seconds, and that was a series that you’re doing or an experiment. Is that right?
Nick Evans: Yeah, I’m doing. There are 2 in the world right now. Basically, what I did is I took 8 or 10 of my sort of top posts, or not even my top posts, but posts that I thought that could translate well into quick videos, and I’m working through those trying out different setups or different lighting, just to get a feel for it. I’m using them as a test case to see … Then I’m putting them on YouTube obviously, and I’m embedding them back into the post and stuff like that. It’s a little bit. It’s creating content, but also, it’s kind of just an experiment for me to just play around.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, for sure. I’m interested to know. What did you use to accomplish that? What were the different tools and the software, because we get a lot of questions about video.
Nick Evans: I just used my … I have a Cannon 5D that I use for photography, and I still feel like I used approximately 10 percent of the functionality.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, computers, cameras, all of that stuff.
Nick Evans: I know, and you dive into it. You’re like, “Oh, my gosh. This is such a powerful thing.” It’s really easy to take good video with that camera, but also you can use your phone. The cameras are amazing these days. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money unless you already have something. Then I use to edit everything I use Adobe Premier. I just signed up for the cloud thing, which is pretty cheap. You can pay monthly, and they have really good tutorials. I did not know how to use the program at all when I opened it. Within, I think it took me from 0 knowledge on the program to when I exported my first little 60 second video that I made, was probably like 2 and a half hours. The second one I did was like an hour. There’s a quick drop off in time once you get the process down and stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that will be really encouraging for people to hear, because so often what keeps people from doing it isn’t the actual work. It’s the assumption of what the work will be. The other thing that you mentioned, so you mentioned Creative Cloud, which is Adobe’s subscription plan, and previously it used to be a one time fee for the software. If you-
Nick Evans: It was like thousands of dollars.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right, if you were to buy the Creative Suite, it would be like 1,700 dollars or something like that. They’ve switched where now they do the monthly fee. You can do different packages, I think. I haven’t done it for a while. Is this what you did? You did the movie-
Nick Evans: I already had … I only did the single program, because I have previous versions of Photoshop and stuff. I just needed Premier. I think I’m paying like 10 bucks a month or something for just Premier, but the next time I upgrade my system and everything, I will just use Cloud. I’m not spending thousands of dollars on all that stuff again. I’ll just upgrade all of my Adobe programs to the Cloud, because it’s so easy. It’s great. They have tones of tutorials and stuff. It’s a great setup. I don’t want to sound like an Adobe preacher, but they did nice job with it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we use Final Cut Pro, but the disadvantage with that is, number 1, you have to have an Apple or a Mac in order to use it. Then it’s a one time purchase as opposed to that initial signup. For people that are listening, if they’re like, “Ugh, I don’t want to spend 300 bucks to get a software program that I don’t’ know if I’m going to use it.” The Premier can be a great first step in where you can sign up. You can use it, get a feel for it. It’s not that huge price point right off the bat, and very, very similar in terms of capability and features. A lot of legitimate films are cut on Premier, which one of the reasons why it can be so intimidating. It’s like, “Oh there’s so much stuff,” but like-
Nick Evans: Yeah, when you open it, it’s really intimidating the first time. Then you realize that, well at least for the video I was making, I realized that basically I just ignore like 90 percent of it and minimize all the various things that you would need if you were making a full featured film. It’s super easy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, great. Another thing that Lindsey has done, and I haven’t done a ton with it, is just like you said. Shoot straight from the iPhone. We’ve noticed a lot of people are doing that where they’ll take an iPhone or an Android, whatever it is that you use for your phone. Shoot that and actually edit on that that as well. There’s enough editing programs just for the phone itself that you can do that.
Nick Evans: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. All right, so we started out with NBC. We ended with iPhone video, but I think that covers stuff for video, so thanks for chatting about that for a bit. I wanted to make sure to hit that. One of the things that I was curious about, Nick, is and I think will be really valuable is the reality that you have a lot of balls in the air. You have a little one at home. You have your blog. You’re still working part time for the company that you work for. I’m interested to hear about how you manage that. What is your schedule like and what are the routines that you stick to knowing that, number 1, you’ve done a really good job of maintaining your blog over … Is it 6 years? Is that right?
Nick Evans: Oh, I wish. Almost 8 at this point, yeah, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: So 6 plus, 6, 7, 8-
Nick Evans: 6 plus, yeah, let’s round up and say I think it will be 8 in September.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, you’ve done an incredible job with it. You post consistently. It looks really solid. Just overall, it’s a great site. Knowing that you also are juggling these other things, I’m sure you have some tricks that you stick to and some patterns that you have and habits that allow you to continue to do that over a long period of time. Knowing that, a lot of people that are listening to this are in the same boat, but probably are coming up against some roadblocks and trying to figure out how to balance all that stuff. Do you have any advice for people like that that are listening?
Nick Evans: Well, I can do my best. I guess I can talk about my take on it, and maybe things can be learned from that. I don’t know. Basically, my day is broken up basically between remote work for a company that I work for in D.C. and then blog work. When my family gets home, when my wife gets home from work, and when my kid gets home, I focus on them. I really try to not divide my time a lot during that period of time in the afternoon.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s hard to do.
Nick Evans: Yeah, exactly, it is tough. I really try to approach the day as a normal work day. It’s kind of funny, because I think a lot of people get into blogging, especially if you’re talking about making money, because they want a flexible schedule. I personally learned that I get less done on a flexible schedule. If I give myself 12 hours to do whatever, I will take all those 12 hours to do it, but if I give myself … I tend to wake up earlier, mainly because I have a child, and he-
Bjork Ostrom: He wakes up early.
Nick Evans: He wakes up early, so I’m up early. I’ll wake up at 6, and then I will get him out the door. I will take him out the door. He cannot walk yet, so I’m taking him. Then I come home, and it’s basically a 9 to 5 thing. When I’m done, I’m done. Sometimes, I will devote an hour or 2 at night to doing social media something, maybe. I really try to keep it between the lines. I think that that’s important, because I think a lot of times bloggers or people who are interested in doing creative things … They feel like they need to use the full day. I don’t know that that’s a long term successful strategy. I think you’re going to burn out if you spend … Well, maybe you won’t. I know that there are some bloggers that can work 14 hours days and not that works for them.
For me personally, I found that I get done what I can in the amount of time I have. Then I got to bed at 10. I try to get 8 hours of sleep. I feel rested during the day while I’m working, and I just feel more productive in that schedule. Sometimes that means I’m probably not as successful as some other bloggers who are pinning 400 things a day or have these intense workloads. I’m okay with that, because I feel like that the schedule I have allows me to break it up in nice chunks. I’m still able to produce work that I feel really good about. I don’t know if I even gave you any concrete tips there.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, no, that’s really good. I think that what its speaks to is the long-termness of it and to be able to stick with something. This is going to bring me into the next thing that I wanted to chat about a little bit, but before I do, kind of as an aside, I was reading about this designer yesterday. He talked about how he tries to not work more than 40 hours a week. He said life’s too short, and it was just this really short sentence at the end. It gave me pause, and considered that a little bit. It’s like, “Yeah, you know what, that makes a lot of sense.” What are we working for if our workdays are 14, 15, 16 hours long? For some people, it makes sense, and personality wise it might be a fit. I think it’s really good to hear that, and it allows you to commit to the long term, which I think is such a great takeaway and to not burn out, which is so, so common.
This was something that I pulled on the forums or from the forums on Food Blogger Pro, and I think it’s really important for people to hear. It was talking about blogging as a numbers game. You had talked about your experience, and you had said, “From personal experience,” you said, “I can tell you that I wrote on Macheesmo for roughly 4 years,” 3 to 4 posts a week, so about 800 posts before you really started to see that traffic and that growth. Man, I think that’s so important of people to hear, because a lot of times especially maybe a podcast like where there’ve been people on and they’re like, “Well, after 2 years I was getting 9 million people.”
Nick Evans: Exactly. I’ve listened to those podcasts.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it can kind of feel like, you can get the perception that that is the norm when it’s like the 0.1 percent.
Nick Evans: If even that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think it’s so … I so appreciated your perspective on that. Can you talk a little bit about that and maybe kind of break that down a little bit?
Nick Evans: Yeah, the first 4 years I was writing while I was working full time. I was playing around. I like websites. I always liked the idea of having a website. I thought it was fun, and so I created it. I would just sort of post recipes to keep myself honest while I was cooking. I liked it, and I didn’t think-
Bjork Ostrom: Like a lot of that, I’m curious. Could you dig into that a little bit?
Nick Evans: Oh, sure. I moved in. Macheesmo lined up with when my girlfriend at the time and now my wife moved in together. She didn’t know how to cook. She did not like cooking, which is still true to this day. I realized that if we were going to not eat out every single meal, one of us had to learn how to do this. I sort of put myself through a little of my own culinary school, except like the home cook version. Posting every, not every day, but a few times a week on stuff I was trying was my way of kind of saying, “Okay, you’re doing this. You’re going to try different recipes. You’re going to not just cook the same things everyday. You’re going to experiment. You’re going to learn, and you’re going to write about it. That’ll make it more real.”
Then after a few years, I was like, “Wow, I really … I like this.” Even though it was small, I had a community. Then it kind of started to take on a different life. Around year 5 and 6 it started growing. I was like, “Oh, wow, this might be like a real thing.” Then I got a cookbook deal, and that was a real thing. Then I was on Food Fighters, so all of a sudden it became bigger than when I had started it. It sounds crazy that it was 8 years ago. Now as I look in my dashboard, I’m going to post my 2,000th post this month I think, which is crazy. I don’t even … Seriously, when I post something, I have to go through my own archives, because I’m like, “I probably-”
Bjork Ostrom: “Didn’t I post something like this? I don’t know.”
Nick Evans: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s incredible and a huge testament to commitment long term, and I think that’s awesome.
Nick Evans: Part of that is like what we said. It’s just figuring out a way that you can do it sustainably, mentally, and not just lose your mind over all the ways you can get pulled on the internet. You just have to figure out a way to do what you can in the time that you have and then say, “Okay, I’m going to go play with my kids or read a book or go for a run or do something completely different and kind of recharge my batteries. If I only get 4 thousand views today instead of 5 thousand views, it’s going to be okay.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we talk about, especially in that first stage of building a website of blog, user controlled analytics, so this idea of getting out of the numbers and getting into your own goals. So, like maybe your goal is to understand cooking a little bit better, and that’s something you can control a lot more than you can traffic or growth or things like that. I think that’s wise to remind people that it’s not all about those especially day to day numbers.
Nick Evans: Yeah, it’s funny. The traffic thing is, it’s the one thing that I think people focus on the most, but it really … There’s not a lot. There’s some things you can do to control it obviously, but the end of the day, a lot of it is out of your control, like whether certain sites pick you up or whether … There’s a lot of it that’s completely out of your control. Focusing on it too much is a little bit of wasted energy. At least that’s my personal view.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. This is s a post I wrote a long time ago on the Food Blogger Pro blog, but I talked about how writing content or producing content, whether it’s a podcast, blogpost, things like that, it’s a lot like somebody who writes songs.
Nick Evans: Yeah, I know this theory of yours, and I love this theory.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s a lot like people are like, “The Beatles, they were so incredible, and they were. What people don’t know is that they played like 8 hour gigs and wrote hundreds and hundreds of songs, and then you get one hit wonder. Right, so you get something that catches on, and it starts to build. What do you do then? Well, you go back to the studio and you continue to write songs, and you hope that another one catches on. It’s not that you’re just, that you don’t really care about what you’re doing. You want to write songs that people connect with and understand, but the trick isn’t getting the hit. The trick is figuring out how to commit to the long term which is something that you’ve done. I think it’s so important for people for to hear about.
I want to go back to that point where you said for roughly 4 years, writing 3 to 4 posts a week, before you started to get that traffic and that growth, then you said … You had mentioned something where you said, “And then I realized this could be a thing,” or that there was actually something behind this where you got the cookbook deal and then went on the TV show. At what point did you realize that, “Oh, I can start augmenting some of my …” Is that the right word, augmenting some of my income?
Nick Evans: Sure, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Nick Evans: Increasing.
Bjork Ostrom: Increasing. Yeah okay, whatever it is. What are the things that, kind of those initial steps that you took once you started to build the site to kind of say, “Hey, I can kind of turn this into a little bit of a business.” What are the things that are working well for you right now for that?
Nick Evans: Yeah, well I was so novice or, I guess I don’t know what the word is, ignorant maybe to some of the more, some of the different ways you can make money on a website when I started. Once I started to get reasonable traffic … In my world, that’s like, I would say, 100 thousand views a month maybe. Then I started to think about, “All right, if I can get on some ad networks or something then all of a sudden you’re bringing in a few hundred bucks a month extra.” That’s nothing to laugh at. A few hundred bucks is a few hundred bucks, especially before when you were making nothing.
Bjork Ostrom: It feels there’s always a sense of it feeling a little bit magical of like, “Wait a minute. When is somebody going to find out about this?”
Nick Evans: Absolutely, absolutely. I started, to be honest I don’t know the exact time. It was around when I got my book deal, because part of the book thing was because I was getting more traffic. It got noticed more, so it was around the same time. When was that? That’s a great question. That was probably in 2012, I would say. Yeah, yeah, that sounds right 2012. Around then I sort of figured out, “Hey, ads are a thing.” If you can do it in a way that’s not super annoying, then that’s great, and maybe make a few bucks. I was able to sort of do that, and then around that time, I went part time with the company that I was working for. I still work for them today, and I actually like the split between … splitting my day between 2 different functions basically. It kind of breaks up my brain a little bit and keeps me energized about both. I went part time so I could spend a little bit more time coming up with content, coming up with, you know, making the blog a little better. That all happened around that time.
I think your second part was what’s working today?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’m just curious to know what does that look like for you right now, running the blog as a business knowing that it’s part of what you do as your job.
Nick Evans: Sure yeah, well, I think, and you’ve talked about this too that part of the online world now seems to be moving more to sponsored content. I’ve definitely done that, and I actually really like, but I tend to be really focused about the companies I work with. I limit the amount of sponsored posts that I do to like 2 a month, so it’s a not a ton. I spend a lot of time with those companies coming up with really, hopefully great content that they like to share as well. I think there are some … Well, I won’t name companies or anything, but I think some companies want you to push out a lot of sponsored content. I guess I would rather just work with companies that are willing to pay a little bit more for a little bit more of a just kind of exclusive … I don’t know if exclusive is the right word, but limited access.
Bjork Ostrom: Augmented.
Nick Evans: Yeah, sure.
Bjork Ostrom: No, that still wouldn’t work there, would it?
Nick Evans: Yeah, I don’t think so, but something like … You know what I’m trying to say. I think part of it is also bloggers, at least I did for a very long time, felt that you had to undercharge for what you were delivering, because oh you’re new or you have a small following or you’re not one of these huge blogs. Oh I couldn’t charge them hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars for something, right. What I finally realized, and this is actually fairly recent like in the last 6 months I realized this, that if these people are in a conversation with you about you helping them promote their product, then obviously, they care about platform.
If they were not to have it on your platform, the work that they’re going to have to do to get hat same message out is huge. They’re going to have to pay photographers. They’re going to have to pay PR people. They’re going to have to pay a copywriter. All of these pieces is going to cost them a lot of money, when you are kind of a one stop shop. You can sell that as a huge, huge advantage. Brands love it, so I think the one thing that I would try to tell bloggers is don’t work for cheap. Your time is valuable. Try to push the envelope a little bit on that.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such a great point, and you didn’t know that I would pull up all of your different conversations on the forum. They were good, so I’m going to quote you on one of these. Somebody was asking about sponsored content. You said … This is essentially what you said, but I’m just going to repeat it with my voice saying what your wrote. What you said was, “What you’re offering a brand … ” Somebody asked about sponsored content, and they asked about a rate. You said, “What you’re offering a brand by doing sponsored posts is incredibly valuable. Photography, recipes they can link to, interaction with an audience.” Then you said, “These are services outside of a blogger that are very expensive. You should be charging not just for the reach of your posts, but also for your time.”
I think that’s such an important. We had a … This was … Man, it was one of the first podcasts that we did with Scott and Jaden Hare. They talked about this too, where they’re like, “Put a dollar amount on your time. What is your time worth? As you go through that, use that to help evaluate and get this final number.” I think that’s such an important takeaway.
On sponsored content, I want to talk a little bit more about that. How do you make those connections with brands? Are those people coming to you? Are you reaching out to them? Do you work with some type of agent?
Nick Evans: I don’t work with an agent right now. I’ve done some work with IZEA, which is a third party inter-media company that tries to connect bloggers and brands. I’ve found those to be good if your starting out to get some initial connections, but now mostly, I to honest, sometimes I just send tweets to the company and try to start a conversation with them on Twitter. I don’t know why Twitter is more responsive. I’ve tried emailing brands, and that never seems to work. I don’t know if there’s too much bureaucracy through email for it to get to the right people. I’ve had success in just sending a short tweet to a company saying like, “Hey, I tried you new whatever, and it’s really great.”
Then you have a brief conversation, and then if they follow you, then you can follow them. Then you can send them a direct message, and then you’re talking to a person. You can say, “Hey, can I send you an email with a little bit about what I do, a little bit about maybe getting your product in front in my audience?” That kind of thing, and that’s been … I’ve done that a few times, and that works. It hasn’t always worked, but it has worked few times. Yeah, I’ve had more success than with like email or something.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s such a great example of this permission to pitch, so it’s not like your sending an email and saying, “Here’s my stuff, and you should work with me.” It’s first making that connection and starting that relationship, so there’s some trust there. The other thing that’s nice about Twitter is that the research chain is so much easier, so you can click on their profile, then you can see what they’re tweeting about. You can see what their website is. For the person on the other side, I think it makes it a little bit easy for them to do that kind of internet background check and feel confident moving forward in that conversation and knowing a little bit about what it’s about.
Nick Evans: Yeah, the other thing that I’ve done … I don’t know if I’ve actually gotten a sponsored post from this, but I definitely connected with brands this way is if I happened to be using something in a photo or a something that I posted on Instagram, I’ll tag the brand in the photo. That, you know that’s going to pop up on somebody’s screen somewhere. Maybe they won’t respond, but if you do it a few times … I’ve had brands then send me a message and ask if they can repost the photo, which is good exposure. Then also you’re having that conversation. They’re aware of you in the world, which is a big first step when you’re talking about his kind of thing.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Yeah, in episode 22, we talked with Zach Tackett from DeLallo, so he helps manage some of the blogger relationships. That’s one of the things he said, almost exactly the same idea, this idea of don’t always expect to lead the relationship with some type of transaction like, “I will write about this, and then you will pay me.” Sometimes, you’re posting stuff that you like and you enjoy. You let the brand know and say, “Hey, I used this. I like it.” End of conversation. I mean not end of conversation maybe, but-
Nick Evans: Right, hopefully not end of conversation. The other thing that I think is important is brands are or at least … They’re really … This sounds so cheesy. Bjork, I apologize for how cheesy this is going to sound. They’re people. At the core, you’re talking to a person, and so treating them like a person and saying hi to them occasionally just because is a nice practice for life in general, not just because you want them to pay you money.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, and it’s always a good reminder to think about it not as connecting with a brands, but connecting with people that work for brands. I think that’s an important concept. What do you recommend for people … You kind of give the overview, but how do you go into for the relationships that you have with those brands the negotiation process? Do you have any tips or things that you’ve learned along the way?
Nick Evans: Yeah, I would say it’s helpful to have some sort of media kit. It does not have to be intense, and in fact, I’m willing to share mine with anybody who wants to check out an example. Basically, it just tells … Mine is really simple. It’s like 2 pages basically, and it’s just a little bit about the blog, a little bit about me. I post. I’m very transparent about my traffic, my reach on social media platforms. Then I also include a few examples of previous work that I’ve done on the second page. I think that, and I don’t include rates or anything like that.
It’s just literally like, “Hey, here’s a little bit about me.” Sending that to brands or PR teams or whoever, I think that they just respond to it in away that’s like, “Oh, this person is for real. We’re not going to ask this person to work for free cheese or something. This person is … Let’s take it seriously, and obviously, this person cares enough to create this package. They’re going to put that kind of time hopefully into creating something with our product.” If you don’t have a media kit, definitely make one. I just made my own. I didn’t pay somebody. There’s some people that will charge you a thousand dollars just to make you this super fancy media kit. I don’t’ think that you … I don’t know, maybe you need that. I think if you’re just starting, just spend a few hours one day looking up some examples. Try to make something that fits your view or whatever, your vision, your voice.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I feel like it’s one of those things again that go back to the work thing were it feels like it would potentially be a lot of work, but once you get into it and put it together, probably not.
Nick Evans: It’s not that bad.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, not as bad as it seems. I have a few more questions for you if you’re all right with that. If we can go on through here. One of the things that I was interested in as I was looking through your stuff, social media and things like that, is that you’ve occasionally used Blab.fm. Is that right?
Nick Evans: Ooh, yeah. I am using Blab-
Bjork Ostrom: .fm. Yeah, it’s .co, .UK, .Minnesota, we don’t know. Blab, and just kind of experimenting with that a little bit. That maybe goes back to the video thing a little bit. Can you talk about what that is, and how that that experiences has been experimenting with that?
Nick Evans: Yeah, I don’t even know if a ton of people know what Blab is. It’s pretty new, I think. But basically, it is on the new train of live streaming, so there’s like Periscope and Meerkat and all that stuff, none of which I’ve really gotten into too much honestly. What Blab does is it basically allows you to host what I like to think of as an online talk show. You have your camera enabled. You’re there. You’re talking. You can have a co-host if you want. The show that I’m working on is called Tasty Food Live, if you want to search it. Basically, what it allows you to do is people that are watching can with the click of a button join the show, and that they show up. You can have face to to face conversation with them, and it’s really seamless and it’s really fun. It’s just a blast.
I don’t know. I’ve had … We’ve done a few shows where I’ll be like, “Okay, we’re going to just hop on for an hour, chat about holiday leftovers or something.” Then we’ll get people … People have no inhibition on this thing, which is what makes it so great. People will just hop on. Their face will pop up, and they’ll say, “Hey, my name’s Katelyn. I have a question about leftover mashed potatoes.” You’re like, “Oh, wow. This is really cool.” I’ll end up spending like 2 and half hours on these shows, just talking to people face to face, over the internet face to face. It’s really easy, and it’s a super fun platform. It can be a little glitchy at times, because it’s pretty new.
It’s definitely, I think, something I’m going to be focusing on in 2016. One, because I love it, and two, because I think it’s just very new and it has this energy about it. There’s people hopping over to your Blab and they’re from like The Beer Blab or their from The Finance Blab. They want to know about prices of ice cream. Who knows? It’s just this weird world where all these people are hopping back and forth between these shows. It’s really fun. I think our best show so far has been viewed like 12 thousand times or something, which is pretty good for a new deal.
Bjork Ostrom: Do the people just opt in whenever they want, like they can just enter in, or do you have to give them permission to show up?
Nick Evans: Yeah, basically they request a seat. There’s a few open seats in your Blab, and so they have to request one. Then you can allow them, and actually there are few Blab trolls that go around, and if you let them on, they’ll cuss at you or something. You’re like, “Okay, thanks.” It’s like a 15 year old yelling at your or something. You’re like, “Okay, whatever.”
Bjork Ostrom: There’s this great … This is borderline inappropriate, not inappropriate. Maybe it is. It depends. It’s all relative, right? There’s this old super archaic site that still works called Chatroulette-
Nick Evans: I went in it.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. There’s-
Nick Evans: Went to college.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. Chatroulette, and then there was also the Miley Cyrus wrecking ball. Did you ever see that music video?
Nick Evans: I saw it. Yes, I saw the actual one.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it was parodied so many times, and one of the parodies is this guy that is doing a Chatroulette, but he’s doing a music video to … We’ll link to it in the show notes, and it will be the most irrelevant link that we’ve ever done on a podcast.
Nick Evans: Sounds like a show note.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we’ll drop that in for sure. The thing that’s so funny about it is, you get these random showing up and they don’t really know what to expect, which is a little bit different than Blab because it’s not a roulette, right. It’s people showing up. When I think of random people coming on, the vision that I have is this guy doing this terrible parody of the Miley Cyrus video, again totally irrelevant. Maybe something to aspire to on your Blab sometime. You could do that. Well, that’s something I’ll look into and check out. I’ve seen a few people that are using that and doing some really cool things with it. I just wanted to check in and talk to you a little bit about that and let people know that aren’t familiar with it.
Nick Evans: Yeah, definitely. If people are interested in checking out the show, it’s usually on Thursdays. It’s called Tasty Food Live. If you search for it on Blab, you will find it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. You have a co-host that’s from Minnesota, right?
Nick Evans: Yes, yeah. Chris Ashbach, who runs Dan330.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Small word, I’ve met him before, and-
Nick Evans: Yeah, that’s so weird.
Bjork Ostrom: Small world. All right, we’re kind of coming to the end here, but one of the things that I want to talk to you a little bit about and spend some time with is, knowing that you have a lot of experience in this space … I’m guessing that you have some things that you would say like, “If I were to go back and do it again, here’s what I would do differently.” Can you talk about what some of those things are and advice for people that are at that beginning stage and any wisdom that you have for them?
Nick Evans: Yeah, so many things. I would say, and I think you guys are sort of the preachers of this a little bit, but thinking about search engine stuff and Pintrest stuff is things that I put off until super recently. Now it is a nightmare to go back and try to make it all work. If I would have spent 10 minutes upfront, it would have saved me an hour on the backend, in especially Pintrest. I know it’s funny, but I think Lindsey and I have similar views on Pintrest or at least we did where we didn’t really get it for a very long time. Just recently, and this is actually super embarrassing, but I’m happy to admit it. For a very long time, I was like, “Okay, I know that I’m supposed to be making long pins. Those seem to do better on Pintrest.” Everybody hears about the long pin. I was like, “Okay, if I stick 2 horizontal images together In a thing and put a title on it, that’s longer than 1 horizontal image, right?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. It’s just gotten a little bit longer.
Nick Evans: It’s gotten a little bit longer, but I was looking at mine, and I was like, “It doesn’t look right.” Keep in mind, this is after I did like 100 of these. I was like, “Wow, that still doesn’t look right.” Then I learned that you’re supposed to put 2 vertical images together.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re like, “Oh, that way long. Hot dog, hamburger.” Like which way do you fold that paper?
Nick Evans: Exactly. Now, I have to go through and do them all over again.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re going back to old posts and updating those, refreshing those?
Nick Evans: Well, I’m trying to. It’s technically … Well, it’s not technically impossible, but it’s logistically impossible for me to do that for all my posts. Frankly, there’s some that I’m like, “Nobody should ever read that anyway.” I try to focus on … My strategy now, which is one that I came up with sort of out of the blue, is I’m just working back in time for any given month. Like for April of last year, I will pick 5 posts from that month that did well, and I’ll redo those posts.
Bjork Ostrom: Redo meaning?
Nick Evans: Meaning I’ll just do some new … I’ll crop some new long images. I’ll make new Pintrest stuff. I won’t re-shoot them necessarily if the photos are okay. I will improve … I’ll make them Pintrest happy basically. I don’t do it for every one. I just try to pick like 5 in any month that I think would do well on Pintrest, and I’ll work on those. That’s the way that I’m making peace with myself, saying like, “Okay, I’m doing this.” I try to do a few a day which really means I try to do a few a week depending on what else I have going on. It’s something that I’m working on.
Bjork Ostrom: To go back to that, you were talking about Pintrest and SEO, spending 10 minutes to save an hour kind of the idea of sharpening you ax for 3 if you have 4 hours. Then just whatever spending an hour cutting the tree, so the specifics of that would be learning the ins and outs of Pintrest and Google. Is that what you’re saying?
Nick Evans: I think so, yeah. You guys do a great job on your video series, obviously. Just also thinking a little bit about doing 5 minutes of keywords, just thinking about what you want your keywords to be for that post. Then also thinking about … and I am not very good about writing for Google. I do not do a lot of making sure I have the same keyword 5 times and whatever. I try to write a little bit more naturally, but I do have it in the back of my mind. I run the little Yoast plugin check that says, “Hey did you include the keyword?” Then if I look back in some of my posts, even as recently as a year and a half or 2 years ago, I didn’t even do that. I didn’t. I literally just wrote, published, done, on to the next one.
Bjork Ostrom: For those, real quick before we get to far away from it, for those that aren’t familiar, can you talk about Yoast what that is and how you do that SEO check?
Nick Evans: Yeah, it’s a plugin in WordPress. It basically pops up a little window below each post that allows you to specify a keyword that you want to focus on for the post.
Bjork Ostrom: For instance?
Nick Evans: Something like cauliflower dip is one I did recently. You can type that in, and it’ll run through the post, and say like, “Okay, did you put that in the URL? Do you have that in the title? Do you have it in the … ” I think it does even ALT images tags and stuff. It just checks. It does a huge checklist, and then it gives you little indicator lights like green, yellow, red, depending on certain things. It even has more general tips like, “Did you include and external link in this post?” Which is apparently something that matters. So it gives you some tips that maybe you didn’t even know about. If you can add them in, that’s great. To do that as you’re writing a post, it takes … It’s 5 minutes. It’s not a lot of time to check it and then, but going back in time seems like a very weighty project.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, to take those small steps along the way instead of having to go and do that huge shoveling right after where you have to go back and do 2 thousand posts or whatever.
Nick Evans: Its funny. It definitely, I can attest that it does make a difference. I’ve been trying to actively focus on that as I write posts now, at least doing the checks and stuff like that for like the last year or so. I know you recently had Casey on, and he helped me a little over a year ago just kind of focus on some things for SEO. I think my Google traffic has more than doubled in like 9 or 10 months. It does, if you’re a little bit thoughtful about it, and that doesn’t mean you have to be robot. If you’re just a little bit thoughtful about it, I think it can make a big difference.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s cool. That’s a huge takeaway. Like you said, we interviewed Casey. That would be a good one to go back and check on. At the very start, just make sure that you’re getting those basics like you said, and Yoast is a great way to make sure that you’re checking all those off.
Man, we’ve covered a lot of ground, Nick.
Nick Evans: Have we? It’s going fast.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s that Blab conversation, right?
Nick Evans: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: You could do that with a podcast where randomly people would just pop in. It would make it really interesting.
Nick Evans: That would be weird.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey, before we wrap up, I want to make sure that people know where they can find you online. Where are the different places that people can connect with you?
Nick Evans: Oh sure, yeah. My site is the big one. It’s Macheesmo.com, spelled a little weird. M-A-C-H-E-E-S-O.
Bjork Ostrom: Is there a story behind that, real quick?
Nick Evans: Yeah, just real quick. Basically, I wanted to come up with something that was manly, because when I started the blog, there wasn’t a lot of male food bloggers. I wanted something that was sort of masculine, and actually the word machismo is kind of like a little bit derogatory in Spanish. It’s not necessarily a great word, so I tried to put a little bit of a fun spin on it by spelling differently and also include a food element, cheese. It’s just supposed to mean if you are arrogant in the kitchen, you’re confident in the kitchen. You feel good about what … You feel comfortable cooking things regularly was sort of the idea.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great, and I think it does that. As a funny aside, I just came across that word today. The word, not spelled that way obviously, but I was reading … Total tangent, but I’m reading Flash Boys which is a book about high frequency traders on Wall Street, which is a great example of … They talk about these guys being machismo, and I was like, “It’s meant to be. I was meant to interview Nick today.” Anyways, to go back, you were saying people can find you at your website Macheesmo.
Nick Evans: Yeah, connect with me. The nice thing about having a site that’s a made up word, you get all the social media things. Any social media slash Macheesmo you’ll find me, and then always email me. I try to be pretty friendly and responsive. Also, if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member, obviously I like to chat in the forum, so you’ll see me there also, and shoot me a line. Say hi.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Nick Evans: Blab.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’d Blab with you. Somebody can show up and say hi there.
Nick Evans: Say hi.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Hey, Nick, really appreciate you coming on the podcast today.
Nick Evans: Of course, thanks, Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’ll catch you around.
Nick Evans: Okay, bye.
Bjork Ostrom: Bye.
Hey that’s a wrap for episode number 30. If you want to check out any of the show notes including that Chatroulette video, I don’t even know how to describe it. Chatroulette parody of Miley Cyrus wrecking ball video. You can go to FoodBloggerPro.com/30 and that will bring you to the show notes for this episode. One more big thank you to Nick for coming on the podcast. Be sure to check out his site, his recipes, and follow him on social media. That’s a wrap for this week’s episode. We will catch you here, same time, same place next week. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks, guys.