Welcome to episode 171 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Noelle Tarr from Coconuts & Kettlebells about strategically using a podcast to build a business.
Last week on the podcast, we chatted with three Food Blogger Pro members about the things that have helped them grow their blogs and the things that they’re struggling with. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
The Business of Podcasting
Let’s talk about podcasting and how it can be an awesome opportunity to get your content seen and heard.
Noelle has a blog, a cookbook, and a podcast, and she finds that the podcast is a great way to reach her audience on a deeper level and create a community with her followers.
You’ll learn how she started her podcast, how she decides on topics, and so much more. If you’ve ever wondered if starting a podcast is right for you, this episode will help you understand the benefits and opportunities behind building your brand with a podcast.
In this episode, Noelle shares:
- Why she started her podcast
- How she tracks the success of her podcast
- Which podcast topics perform best
- How she’s building her email list
- How they keep creating content
- How they schedule their podcast interviews
- How they keep topics relevant
- How they use their podcast to communicate other projects to their followers
- Tips for pricing podcast sponsorships
- Coconuts and Kettlebells
- Well-Fed Women Podcast
- Coconuts & Kettlebells cookbook
- Podcasts Hit the Books
- How to Start a Podcast in 2018: Pat’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial
- 053: Pat Flynn’s Tips for Building Online Businesses That Fly
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Dawn! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.
We’d like to thank our sponsors, WP Tasty! Check out wptasty.com to learn more about their handcrafted WordPress plugins specifically made for food bloggers.
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: In this episode, I talk about the things I put in my pocket, and we chat about the business of podcasting.
Hey, everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast brought to you by WP Tasty, which is the go-to place for your WordPress plugins, at least three WordPress plugins. We are at the point now where we have hundreds of people signing up every month to use WP Tasty plugins. They might be food bloggers that are wanting to use a recipe plugin, the recipe plugin that we use on Pinch of Yum, to make sure all of their markup on their recipes is done in the correct way so they can display things like they should look in recipe search results.
Maybe they are people that want to optimize for SEO and Pinterest and use Tasty Pins, or the third plug in we have is called Tasty Links, and that is for anybody that wants to link anywhere throughout their site using a keyword. If you have an affiliate link or a post on your page, and you want to make sure that you are linking any specific keyword of that specific mention with your website, Tasty Links is the best plugin for you to check out. WP Tasty is our, quote, unquote, sponsor of this podcast. It’s actually kind of the sister site or a brother site to Food Blogger Pro.
Every podcast, we do as Tasty Tip. A Tasty Tip is a little recommendation, a tip. It might be related to some of the plugins that we have on WP Tasty. Other times, it’s just kind of a random tip, and it has to do with whatever I feel like talking about that day. Today, that is all about putting things in my pocket. Now, what do I mean by that? I don’t mean my physical pocket. I mean a digital pocket and, specifically, it is a tool or a software or an app called Pocket.
One of the things that I’ve been trying to do is change my consumption behavior. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, which is good, but then what I find myself doing is just randomly scrolling through news sites. That can be good. It’s good to be informed of what’s happening and to be aware of the news, but also, if you spend too much time doing that, you can kind of get depressed, so what I have been spending some time doing is being really intentional in building out my Pocket list.
For those that aren’t familiar, Pocket is an app that allows you to save and categorize different pieces of content. What I’ve done is, at the end of the day where I feel like, okay, I’m ready to chill out, I’ve worked super hard, and it would usually be the time where I’d go to social media or I’d randomly scroll through news … What I’ve been trying to lately is, instead, use Pocket. Then what I’ll do is I’ll review any of the articles, or videos, or podcast episodes that people have sent me throughout the day or the past week or months that I didn’t want to consume or read in real time when I was working in the middle of the day.
It allows me to have a time where I’m able to just kind of chill out a little bit, relax, and I can look through the things that I’m interested in looking through, but it’s a really intentional effort as opposed to randomly being served up pieces of content that may or may not be relevant for what I’m interested in doing or interested in reading about, so Pocket has been this great little resource for me. They have a free and a premium version. I use the premium version because I use the app enough. You can also do a Chrome browser extension, so I have it on my phone, I have it on Chrome.
Whenever I see an article I want to read or that might be interesting, whether it be work-related or not, I usually save that in Pocket and then, when I have those down times when I just want to decompress a little bit, I use Pocket as my go-to kind of intentional decompress, if that’s possible. I wanted to share that as a little Tasty Tip for those of you that are looking to change how you consume content into influence the type of input that you have by not randomly getting information from social media or the news and being a little bit more intentional with that. For me, Pocket has been a great resource for that. That is the Tasty Tip for today.
I’m excited to share this interview with Noelle Tarr from Coconuts and Kettlebells. She also has a podcast called The Well-Fed Women Podcast. We’re going to be actually talking about podcasts. The reason I’m excited to share this interview is because it offers another perspective, a different view and a different story of how to build a following and to build a business online. It doesn’t always have to be creating content and publishing that on a blog. Even though we are called Food Blogger Pro, my hope in the content that we focus on in the interviews that we do is that we offer a broad perspective on what you can do in the food and recipe and general online business-building niche and offer a broad perspective on what those different things can be, and one of those is a podcast.
For those of you that are trying to find that really good fit for you or what it looks like to create content and publish content and to share that online, podcasting might be an avenue. I talked to Noelle about what it was like to start, what it was like to kind of pivot as she realized this was a really important thing where she had traction behind the podcast, what goes into it, how to get sponsors. There’s a lot of really awesome content. We’ll even dive deep into talking about kind of the cookbook process and talk about how the podcast helped to influence that and to help get a cookbook deal. It’s going to be a great interview, really excited to share it with you. Noelle, welcome to the podcast.
Noelle Tarr: Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, always nice. We were talking about this before. Always nice to interview people who are podcasters because this is like what you do. Before we press record, you’re like, “My expertise is in talking,” so that’s perfect for a podcast.
Noelle Tarr: That is what I like to do, hence why I started a podcast, so yeah. Yeah, that’s right.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I’m excited to talk to you about, specifically, podcasting because one of the things that we want to do on this podcast is remind people that, even though the name of this podcast is Food Blogger Pro, our hope is that we offer people a inside look into other businesses, people that are doing things creatively in other spaces. Maybe you don’t like publishing blog posts. For some people, that’s true. There’s other avenues that you can explore. One of those is podcasting. Before you started your podcast, as you were kind of thinking of getting into it, was that the first thing that you did? Was that your first step into building a following and building a business online?
Noelle Tarr: No, it definitely wasn’t. I actually started a blog, and that was going to be the thing that I did, so spent a long time trying to figure out what name I would call it, the content that I would do, and ultimately came up with Coconuts and Kettlebells and really decided I wanted to talk about nutrition. I wanted to write recipes, and I wanted to do workouts. The more I got into the business of writing and blogging, I realized it took a lot of time to write blog posts. While I love writing, I could see that there was a shift happening pretty early on. There was this shift towards podcasting, and I found it to be a really interesting way of communicating with people because you had their full attention for a pretty long period of time.
Our society is very what can we get done in the shortest amount of time? Things lose our attention within seconds, and so I could kind of see … I fell in love with listening to podcasts, and I thought, wow, this is something that I think could really benefit other people. We could be much clearer with our message talking about it as opposed to being … I’m sort of a Type A perfectionist, which I consider not to be that great of a trait. It means that I’m hypercritical of my stuff. I over-edit it, and it’s just … It’s very time consuming.
When I’m talking, I’m much more relaxed, and I can get a lot more done, and I feel like I can communicate my message a lot better, and so it was something I actually started a year into my blog, starting and running the blog, and it became a small supplement, and now it’s close to the … It’s really the main thing that I do consistently, and it definitely has the most attention in terms of listenership and the community around it, and that’s how most people find me nowadays.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think when you talk about your story there, one of the things that you talked about is realizing things about yourself. I think so much of what we do, we being individual creators, is figuring out what is the fit for us and exploring that and making sure that we understand and have that self-awareness to say, hey, maybe this thing that kind of ties into the dark side of the Type A kind of perfectionist tendencies, like over-editing or not pressing publish, and saying, oh, it’s not quite perfect enough, because it’s words on paper and easier to critique.
For you, it sounds like you were saying, “Okay, maybe there’s something where I can go into a more natural medium where I don’t have that as much,” and it sounds like podcasting was that. At what point did you say, “Hey, I kind of notice a shift here, and this is becoming the main thing”? Or did you just decide, “Hey, I want to make this the main thing, so I’m going to focus all my attention on it”?
Noelle Tarr: One of the things that I pride myself in is studying what other people are doing and being able to take action on that and see shifts happening. I could see a lot of people in the holistic health community, people who were talking about similar things that I was talking about, really doing well with podcasts, and I found that it was such an interesting thing to me that you could play it while you were driving, you could play it while you’re in the shower, you could play while you’re cleaning.
To me, it just was something I was observing happening with … especially because social media … It was when Instagram started getting much more traffic, getting bigger. It seemed to me like, while blogging was important, we were seeing a lot more people shifting their blogging almost over to Instagram and Facebook, and people just needed a different medium to listen to and engage with content without having to suck a lot of their time up. Right now, there’s a lot of people getting into podcasting, and that’s really great, and I do believe there’s plenty of room for new podcasters, but at that time, there was a really big learning curve. It wasn’t that easy, and so I saw a lot of people who were podcasting really doing a great job of getting their communication and what they had to say out.
One of the things that I noticed the most was that people who were listeners of people’s podcasts, they were really loyal. They were die-hard fans. They really connected on a deeper level with these blogger [inaudible 00:11:22], and so that’s what I craved. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to build a community. My message is not a one-size-fits-all. I talk about nutrition and fitness, but I don’t talk about it in the way that people [inaudible 00:11:36] do. It’s a little bit more complicates. I talk a lot about mindset and body image and all that stuff, and so for me to be able to take questions from people and talk from the heart, I knew that that would be a way for me to connect with people much better, and I could see that.
I actually decided to do it with a cohost of mine so that it was much more casual and friendly, and it wasn’t just me sitting here trying to make entertaining content. That was probably one of the best decisions that I made because we both brought our communities to a podcast, which we didn’t have really big communities at the time, but we became much stronger together. We had a great chemistry, and we were able to start building a community together as opposed to just it being one or the other individual, so yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things that you mentioned is you said, “I had noticed a lot of people doing well with podcasts, and especially in the niche of fitness and health.” What did that look like? What does that mean, and then what does that look like for you? How do you track if you’re doing well with your podcast?
Noelle Tarr: For me, it was just observations, seeing how people reacted and responded to other people with podcasts via social media, seeing all the questions that they would get in. I actually became close … You eventually enter into, as you know … you enter into this blogging world, whether it be food blogging, or holistic health, or nutrition, and you start … The bigger you get and the more you start talking about things, you start to become friends and network with other people. As I talked to people, I could see that it was really working well for them, and they were growing pretty quickly.
For us, we started, and once we started a podcast, we had maybe 300 listens on that first episode, downloads on that first episode. It was like, cool, okay, we’ll just keep being consistent and keep taking a step forward and keep doing the next one, doing the next one. As we did more and more, we could see that, when we talked about certain topics, we would look up [inaudible 00:13:38] our download numbers. We have a hosting company called Libsyn, which actually hosts all of the audio files, and we would actually look at the download numbers, and we’d see huge spikes when we would talk about certain topics, and so then we started kind of creating content much like you do in the blogging world. We started creating content and really responding to what was working, and that’s how we grew.
To me, it was just can we just get a little bit better every single day? Can we get a few more? As long as we’re not going down. Believe me, there was a good half a year where we started going back down much like, again, in the blogging world where you get these … All of a sudden, you’re kind of riding high, and you get a viral blog post, but then you start to kind of go down a little bit. We ebbed and flowed. Now we’re kind of just consistently getting a few hundred more views and listens. It’s interesting to me.
To me, the marker that means the most … get emails back from people that say, “Your podcast has changed my life. I’m thinking so differently about health, and please don’t stop doing what you’re doing, and I’ve told every single person about you.” That makes me feel like, okay, we’re doing good things here, and we’re successful, so yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: What were some of the things, from a content perspective? You talked about those spikes that you experienced. What were some of those things, from a content perspective, where you noticed the spikes?
Noelle Tarr: Yep. Yeah, talking about carbohydrates. That’s a big thing right now in the health world, so anytime we talked about low-carb. We actually have a kind of a different perspective on that. We are not, oh, everybody needs to eat low-carb. We’re actually like, “Hey, it’s cool. You can eat carbohydrates.” Anytime we talked about carbohydrates, anytime we talked about body image … Our big thing that has always kind of been different is really talking about body image and people’s relationship with food and fitness and how their mindset impacts actions, and a little bit about diet culture and just … It gets really hairy, and it gets kind of complicated, but I feel like we are really great at unpacking that, and so anytime body image was in the title of the episode or something about low-carb diet no longer working or something like that, women would really be attracted to that and wanted to listen to it, so yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That was so you can look at the analytics. We talk about that with blog posts where, hey, have a good understanding of the blog posts that you publish or just the content, in general, that you publish that does really well and see if you can replicate that in some way and track along with it to see if that then performs in the same way. It sounds like that’s a really good example of you guys saying, “Okay, what are the things, the episodes we’ve done, the content that we’ve talked about that’s done well, and can we replicate that?” When you did, did you notice that those future episodes would kind of have a spike as well?
Noelle Tarr: Definitely, yeah. As things started to trend in the nutrition space, we would say, “Okay, it looks like we need to really cover this from our perspective and do some research and talk about it.” One thing that people were really kind of talking about, maybe about a year ago, was something called intermittent fasting. A lot of women were trying it, and it wasn’t really working for them. Now this diet called keto is really popular, so we would talk about … We’d notice that it was getting really popular, and we’d say, “Okay, how can we, one, help people by giving them our perspective, but two, really take what’s becoming popular, the shifts, the trends we’re seeing and include that in our content as well?” When we started, we did intermittent fasting for women and keto for women and our take on that, those podcasts and those episodes did really well as well.
Bjork Ostrom: What are some of the other things from a podcast perspective? Because it’s not like you can have a podcast that trends on Pinterest. What are some of the things that you can do if you are a podcaster to get some momentum behind a piece of content other than being really intentional with the subject? Are there other things for those that are interested in podcasting or maybe doing podcasting that they should be thinking about in terms of getting exposure for their content and for their podcast?
Noelle Tarr: Yeah. I think the first and … This is what I think some people miss. I think a lot of people jump into podcasting without having any sort of influence on any other markets or mediums. That’s the great thing about your audience is that they do have a website. They have a community, and they are talking to people in other ways on Instagram and on Facebook. I believe that that is what gave us a leg up was having a community that was already there and that we could already communicate with. We already had an email list. That’s kind of one of the things that I have worked on for the last five years is really being intentional with building my email list. Now I was able to say, “Hey, I’ve got a podcast, and I’m talking a lot about different things here, things that you won’t see me talk about on the blog, and it’s really great and easy to listen to,” and yada, yada, yada.
There is a little bit of an educational piece because some people don’t listen to podcasts. Some people do. As with anything, the more you kind of bring over your community that you have, the more popular you are in Apple Podcasts and the higher you rank. People use iTunes, or now it’s called Apple Podcasts, as a search engine to find content that they want to listen to, and so we try to be very intentional with how we name our podcasts, how we do our show notes so that people can find us in both Google search and in an Apple Podcast search, and we just have kind of grown by staying consistent. I think one of the things that a lot of people do as well is they only publish once a month or they only publish every other week.
The more you publish, the more downloads you have and the more you’re going to be seen in Apple Podcasts in that they have top-ranking numbers in certain categories. So, that gets you more attention. We have just tried to really stay consistent, tried to really grow by again, seeing what people are interested in and talking more about that. Then there’s just that organic growth where people are listening to it and then they want to tell their friends. They want to say, “This has really been a great podcast.” Like with yours, this has been I’ve had people in my community. Food Blogger Pro has been so helpful. You should definitely listen to it. It’s just that kind of natural, organic. When people find something that they like, they want to tell other people. That’s a lot of how podcasting works.
Unfortunately, and I know you know this, but Apple doesn’t do a very good job of letting people know what it is that is why are we at the top? Why is that person at the top and I’m not? It’s just not all clear as to how that all works and why certain … Is it download numbers? Is it numbers of reviews? We don’t know but it all works and we all know it’s part of the algorithm. So, we also do really at the end of our podcast, we say please if this is making a difference in your life, please leave a review. We’d love for you to do that. It’s just kind of being consistent.
Bjork Ostrom: In terms of a publishing frequency, so talk about what you feel like works best for you guys. What you guys have found is kind of your flow in terms of your queue, how far out are you recording, how long your episodes, are you doing interviews or is it just the two of you? What does that look like and how are you able to sustain it? Because for so many people, content in general, but also podcasts, you notice there an endless list of kind of the iTunes podcast graveyard where there’s maybe 50, 60, 70, 100 episodes and then you would assume the person just kind of shrugs their shoulders and is like, “It’s too much. I’m going to be done.” So, how do you guys sustain it? What is your structure and how do you set things up?
Noelle Tarr: Yeah. I will say when you get to that point, just as a side note, when you get to that point, you really have two decisions. It’s one I can stop or two, I can keep going and knowing that … I think when you get into doing something different like this, you have to understand that at some point, you’re going to feel frustrated. You’re going to feel like you’re not getting the results. It’s the ability to push through that and to say, “Okay, I’m going to make a few tweaks here and keep staying consistent and keep moving forward.” So, anyway, I would encourage people to really push through that because I think that if you were to stop, you never know. I’ve seen a lot of screenshots of people’s blog traffic and it was like, "We thought about stopping right here and look where we were. We didn’t have a lot of views. We didn’t have a lot of engagement, but three months later, boom. We have this huge spike and that set it up for the rest of our lives was that now we had an actual viable business, a way to communicate with people.
But yeah. So, wait. I’m sorry. What was the actual question?
Bjork Ostrom: It was multiple questions. The other thing I’m curious to know is how you structure it. So, do you have a set time that you shoot for every episode? Is it only the two of you? Do you interview other people?
Noelle Tarr: Got it. Okay. So, here’s the thing this is why I started with cohost is because content is hard and interviewing people is a little bit harder. You have to really prepare for that. You have to look into their biography and what they’re doing and studying. You have to be ready to ask them follow up questions. So, for me, it was I wanted to be able to be flexible and have a conversational podcast where I had somebody that I could team up with and it could be very casual. I will be honest. It is nice to learn things and it is really nice to listen to … There’s a lot of health sciency podcasts out there, but sometimes you just want to be a part of a conversation. You don’t necessarily want to be like, “Ah, should I be taking notes about this?” You just kind of want to hear people’s experiences or you just want to hear people’s opinions.
So, that’s kind of what I wanted to start was I want people to learn things, but I also want them to feel like they’re having a conversation with us and just hanging out with their friends.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Noelle Tarr: So, that’s why I was really passionate about doing it with a friend and that we could always lean on each other. If we got a question in and it wasn’t my thing and I didn’t know a lot about acne, I knew that Stephanie would have a good understanding of that. Where I was weak, she was strong. So, I really pulled somebody in that had a lot of different strengths in areas that I didn’t. We originally just started, we put in a call for questions and said, “What are the things that you have questions about? What are the things that it can be totally personal, it can be general.” Once we started doing that, the questions really started flooding in from both of our communities. So, that’s originally how we started the podcast was just answering community questions.
That was almost a guaranteed way for us to make sure that the content was relevant and the content was what people wanted to hear about. Of course, you start to see trends. We get the same questions about the exact same things over and over again. So, when that happens, we really make sure we hone in on those topics and talk pretty in depth about them and repeat those. So, then as we start to move forward, we wanted to throw in different content. So, it was testing out other things. We brought in some people to interview people we knew our community would love. For example, if we knew that people were really interested in body image and wanted to talk about body image a lot, we brought on a body image expert. Somebody that could bring more of the conversation than what we had.
So, the reason that I do think we haven’t gotten burnt out on the content is because it’s a time for us to almost have a phone conversation. Answer people’s questions and then if we want to bring in other stuff, I feel like God has given me this platform now. I just had a baby. I struggled with postpartum anxiety. I have so many friends that have struggled with postpartum depression. Have had the variety of issues. So, I now am going to move into doing interviews. I’m going to do some series relating to that and trying to bring attention to how we can help women in this whole postpartum confusing time. That is now what I’m kind of going to move towards because I feel like it’s really been on my heart to cover that stuff.
So, I’ve been able to flow and I think that this is the beauty of having a podcast and also doing it with a friend is you’re able to kind of flow and move with your changing life. I wasn’t a mom when I started and now I am. So, it’s all the content has changed relating to that. I’m able to kind of shift and change and provide new content however I see fit and what I see my community needs. We always make, and then I know sorry. I wanted to answer your last question. The length we do is an hour. I think we were a little hesitant to do it that long, but again, it’s a conversation. I actually think people who listen to podcasts would rather it be slightly longer than shorter. I don’t think they want 15 minute. I actually think they’re listening to podcasts because they have a really long commute that they do every single day. So, if they can get their commute covered with one podcast, it’s like, “Oh great.”
So, I know a lot of people are like, “I wish it was longer” I’m like, “I love to talk, but not that much.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Well, the thing I was going to say that I think is so valuable and something to think about for people that are creating content around a personal brand is this idea of finding the overlap between your passion and interest and the thing that is front of mind for you. You talked about anxiety being one of those things. Then also finding the need for other people. It sounds like you’ve found that as this new door that’s opened where it’s something that you feel like is important. You want to talk about personally and also know that there are other people who would benefit from that conversation. That is one of the great things about having control over the content and the direction that you go is that in some ways your life and your interests can be the path for the content and to not feel strapped down to a certain direction, but to be flexible in where you go and what you decide on doing.
So, you are over 180 episodes in. You guys have been doing this for a while. Was there a point when you realized, “Okay. It was kind of a side hustle. Something that we were excited about doing. We’re getting 300 downloads per episode,” which still is incredible, that’s awesome. Especially when you’re just starting off, but over time that started to grow as you figured that out. What did it look like when you started to think about how can we be intentional to think about turning this in to not just a side hustle but also a business for each one of us? Something that we can intentionally build off of? Was there a point when you realized, “Hey, this could be something?”
Noelle Tarr: Yeah. Like most people when they get to that point, you’re typically doing a majority if not all of the work. So, I was doing all of the tasks associated with publishing the podcast. I was doing all the editing for the actual episode. I was then writing up the show notes and publishing and scheduling and it was just sucking up so much time for me. I think once we got to the point … It wasn’t this moment of, “Oh, this is a thing. We’re going to keep doing this and this is great.” It was more of just every time we published, it was like people stayed with us and people commented and said, “I love this topic or I loved this podcast.” It was just we started an Instagram specifically for our podcast. That just started to grow really quickly and still is.
It was just seeing that we were very intentional with it, but it wasn’t fizzling out. People were really excited and it was only continuing to grow, so for me, we knew that, and this is kind of the other nice thing about podcasting is we knew that a podcast was a very valuable way to communicate all the other projects we were working on. So, I came out with an online product and I don’t know how … The podcast was a really great way for me to communicate while I was working on it, I was talking about it. Then when it launched, I was able to share a link and say, “Check the show notes for more information.” I was able to really talk about the things I was doing and we realized it was a great thing for us to do for our community, but it was also a great business opportunity for us to talk about everything else we were doing.
I think once we have always had sponsors on the podcast. We started to get bigger sponsors. People who would actually reach out to us and say, “I’d like to be a long term sponsor of yours.” Once I was able to see … It’s companies and such that we believe in and that we love and once we got a couple requests from some bigger sponsors, I was like, "You know what? I’m going to take this leap and hire somebody to do the actual editing. I’m going to take the leap and hire somebody to do the publishing so that I can focus on making sure that the podcast is really high quality, that the sound is great, that we continue to really prepare well for the questions and that we’re providing new content and I can focus my efforts in making the show the best it can be.
I’m going to stop spending hours a week doing the things that somebody else could be doing. So, when we got those sponsors and we were able to free up some of my time and we were able to spend a lot of time working with sponsors and creating really compelling advertisements, that is where it felt like, “Okay. This is actually a good chunk of income for us. It’s not by any means the paycheck that we need, but it’s part of a semi-passive income strategy where it’s something we do every week and the check comes in and I get to pay for all of these expenses and have some left over to do whatever.”
So, that was the point for me when I finally got it all into other people’s hands. I was like, “Okay. Yeah. I can do this.”
Bjork Ostrom: It does make such a difference. I want to use this opportunity to give a props out to Alexa who helps out so much with our podcast. For anybody that listens to it, if you ever connect with Alexa and you’re getting anything from the podcast, make sure to thank her because without her, it wouldn’t be possible and before that, Raquel who now helps with WP Tasty played a huge part of the podcast and people hear me and they hear us as we do the podcast, but like you said, there’s so much that happens behind the scenes in order to make that happen. How do you know when to do that? Because there’s this inflection point where you are kind of at the early stages of bringing in a little bit of income, but then the hard part is that’s critical income and you don’t want to part with all of it, but you do need to put some of it back in in order to free that time up.
So, was it a big decision for you or were you just like, “Hey, if I’m going to continue to do this, I can’t do everything?”
Noelle Tarr: Yeah. The latter. I’m more of a this is what we gotta do, I’m going to move forward with it kind of person. I overthink things, but I don’t overthink outsourcing. I think one of the things that I learned really early on from Shaline Johnson, she had this really when Periscope was really big. I was watching a Periscope and she did this really interesting exercise where she wrote out literally pages and pages and pages of all the things that you do in a day. It was really like, "Look at the list of all the things that you do and what are the things that bring in the most income for you? When you’re doing those things, what’s your time worth? So, is it $40 an hour? Is it $50 an hour? Is it $60 an hour? It could be more than that.
Then look at some of the other things on your list like editing a podcast or scrubbing a toilet or whatever, doing laundry and could you outsource certain things like that?“ She was talking about how she has somebody come and clean her house because she could use the three or four hours that somebody comes and cleans her house, she could pay somebody a much less amount than what she is worth and she could sit down and actually get a lot done with her business and make a lot more money for herself within that time period. So, that’s kind of the mindset that I’ve had is if I were to get two, three, four hours back every week, what could I do with that time and what is the profitability of that time? How much money could I make or what is the financial benefits of doing that? Once I was able to really think about that and see that and say, ”Oh yeah I could get a lot done in this time that I could really spend. I could easily outsource editing to somebody else and use that time to make a lot more money for myself."
Or just it’s not even like am I going to make money in this hour? It’s progressing things forward. It’s working with sponsors. It’s talking to sponsors. It’s doing research. It’s all that stuff. So, yeah. Once I was able to clearly see that, it was like, “Yep. Gotta do it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things that I’ve noticed as we’ve had a team and team members who work with other people as well is that almost always the thing that I thought I was really good at, when we work together and have a really good understanding of here’s who’s good at what in our small little team that we have. If we’re intentional about shifting those things, usually there’s going to be something that I’m doing that somebody else is actually better at. So, the end thing cumulatively that we are creating is going to be so much better. A great example is Lindsay is really good at understanding voice. We actually have a couple people on our team that are really good with writing and voice and communicating that.
It makes so much more sense for them to have influence and impact on that and to develop that or graphic design would be another example. To find those things that you are uniquely skilled capable of and then finding other people who are uniquely skilled and capable. A lot of times, I feel like the ultimate example that I like to give is accounting. I’m not uniquely skilled or capable at accounting, but there are people who love doing it in the world. That makes so much more sense for us to flip flop an hour of work, whatever that might be to have them take that on. Their unique skill and ability is going to be so much better doing that than whatever in this case, we’re talking about podcasts.
So, to find those places where even if a dollar amount exchange is the same where it’s not a net gain, what’s going to happen is you are each producing a thing that is more valuable. What a gift that is for your community as well as for the thing that you’re building. Which I think is so cool to hear you talk about your story and how that happened. So, one of the things before we get too far away from it that I wanted to ask about was this idea of sponsorships. For our podcast, we do the self sponsorship thing where we talk about WP Tasty and then occasionally when we have a Food Blogger Pro event or enrollment season, we talk about that, but we’ve never done an official sponsorship where somebody pays us to advertise on it.
We haven’t really had people who were like, “Hey” … We’ve had a couple people, but it’s such a specific niche that it just doesn’t come up much. So, knowing that it has for you, I’d be curious for you to speak into that and say for somebody who is at the point where they’re having people reach out or they’re interested in building up advertising from sponsorships on a podcast, how do you know how to go about pricing that? What are the norms? Are there ad networks like there are with blogs that exist for podcasts? What would your advise be for people as it relates to sponsorships and podcasts?
Noelle Tarr: Yeah. I spent a lot of time trying to figure all that out. It was like there was no information. I was like, “What do I charge people?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Save us all the searching. What is the answer?
Noelle Tarr: Somebody help me. Yeah. So, early on, we did not have a ton of downloads. One of the things that we did was just straight up gorilla marketing going to people and saying, “Hey we have this podcast. Do you want to sponsor?” So, my podcast was actually used to be called The Paleo Women podcast way back in the whatever when we first started. Because we were both had gotten in to holistic health through the paleo movement. We were kind of capitalizing on that popularity. We’ve since changed the name, but there was a big conference called Paleo FX. We went out there and I actually walked around the whole sponsor booth area, the expo area and talked individually to people and would be like, “Are you interested in sponsoring a podcast?” I would give my information, take there’s, follow up with an email.
We got our first two sponsors that way. It was basically me create, I created a, I’m sure you’ve talked about this before, a lot of people have a media guide that they give people when big companies reach out and say, “Can I sponsor a post of yours?” So I created something similar to that with our podcasting information: How many people were women, what we talked about, and what the episodes were most popular, and how many downloads we had. With that information I was able to convince some people to get on the podcast. Early on it was just about proving the effectiveness of podcasts.
So those early podcasts, basically what I decided to do was charge a specific dollar amount per 1,000 downloads. So it was like, $17 to $18 per 1,000 downloads on the episodes that you sponsor. So people were paying for any episodes or any downloads that they were not getting listeners. That’s how we originally did it. I would actually calculate out the cost and send people invoices. With our blogs, our individual blogs, sometimes people would email us and say, “Hey, can we get a sponsored post?” And I’d say, “I don’t do sponsored posts anymore, but you can sponsor my podcast.” They would kind of be interested in that, so I’d talk them through it.
We had a couple of sponsors, one in particular, her name’s Allison, and she has this company called PrepDish, and she saw a really great return on her investment. She shared some of those numbers with me, so I would share that information with other people who would reach out to me, or people I would reach out to. I ended up starting to email people, companies, and brands that I fell in love with, and I loved. That was a little bit of an uphill battle because I had to convince people who weren’t searching to sponsor a podcast to sponsor a podcast, so it was hit or miss.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like convincing them not only the effectiveness of a podcast sponsorship, but then after you convince them of that, then convincing them that you are the right podcast to sponsor.
Noelle Tarr: Right, right. So it actually worked really well with the company I got an education through, an organization called the NTA. They trusted me, and they sponsored my podcast, and they then went and sponsored a whole other bunch of podcasts, and they still come back. It’s interesting because a lot of these sponsors, they’ll sponsor for a short period of time, let’s say two months, and they’ll take a few months off, and then they’ll say, “Hey, can we do another round?”
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Noelle Tarr: When you establish and you really bring in a good return on investment for these sponsors, they come back to you. Eventually we got to the point where our downloads were a lot and a lot of companies I find, especially in the holistic health world, you kinda gotta know your niche, I’m not working with Kellogg, you know, I’m working with smaller brands that don’t have endless marketing budgets and so I started to charge set fees per, based on the number, it was, you know, 1700 dollars a month, for example, if you’re going to do one month of sponsorships. But it’s 1500 dollars a month if you’re gonna do two months of sponsorships.
And so that’s kinda the general structure that I started to do about two and a half years in because it just allowed people to say, “well look, I have 2000 dollars, what can I do with that” as opposed to saying “well I don’t know how much exactly it’s gonna be but it could be around here and well if we have a viral podcast it could be more than that” and I just wanted to take care of my sponsors more and so my goal really is to get them the best return on investment and if I love it, if I’m genuine and I use the product and I talk about it openly, it does really really well. So, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And will you ever do, some of the podcasts that I listen to will have let’s say, three sponsors per episode. Do you have something you’ve found has worked well in terms of when you talk about sponsors and how many per episode?
Noelle Tarr: Yeah, I try to limit it to two. And I have some that do have three and I found that I always try to talk about it from personal experience so just talk about it like you and I are talking about right now with my co-host and I’ll do that for a couple episodes and then I will start dropping in a pre-recorded advertisement with a few reminders just in between, before some of the questions that we ask. And so if I have a couple just quick, pre-recorded reminders, then I’ll bring in a third one and maybe talk about it in the intro. It all depends on how new the sponsor is and if my community is familiar with it or not but I have decided, just recently, I cannot do the three per episode.
I feel like it’s a disservice to my sponsors and it’s also a disservice to my community. I don’t think that they want to hear about three things happening all at once. They just want questions and they are, you know, I always thought we would get a little bit of pushback when we started bringing on sponsors. We have never had one complaint. I think people understand that we are doing this for free and that this is something that they enjoy and we’re providing really great value and added value and we have never gotten one person to say “I wish you wouldn’t bring in sponsors” and even when I have three per episode, but I do think it gets a little complicated and it’s hard to really highlight and speak genuinely about three things so for me I wanna keep it easy and natural and so I do limit it to two as best I can and that’s what I’m gonna do moving forward.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, that makes sense, great. And the other thing that the, you talked about this before, and I think it’s really true. The podcast allows you, in a really natural way, to talk about things that are important to you and things that you are producing. And one of those things is a cookbook. And this actually recently came out and I’m guessing the podcast had a lot to do with this. The people that you’re able to reach and your ability to connect with a group of people in the same niche and you’re able to work with a publisher to sign a cookbook deal and that has recently come out. So, would you attribute a lot of that to the podcast, what did that look like, and how are you using the podcast to help promote your cookbook. And then you can talk about the cookbook itself as well.
Noelle Tarr: Mm-hmm (affirmative), so interesting thing, and I, this has been just such a learning experience because the book just came out last week. I think the podcast was pretty much 95 percent of why our publisher signed with us and we got a pretty substantial advance. And it is because they know how effective podcasts are. Everybody listening to this, think about, you’re still here listening and this is how many minutes in? You know, you’re sitting here having a conversation with us. And that is something that is really hard to replicate with blog posts online or Facebook likes, you know, I think publishers have gotten a little bit burnt out on likes, especially in this world where we can pay for sponsorships and pay for likes and they have a hard, it’s really hard to be able to understand.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, what is engagement, yeah
Noelle Tarr: Right, exactly, what’s a true person in your community versus just some paid like. So, when we, we had some friends in the community who had an agent and they gave us the information for their agent and we talked to this agent who ended up becoming our agent and we talked to him and we presented some of the information that we wanted to share and the book we wanted to write, this was me and my co-host, and we talked about our podcast and he kinda rewrote a lot of our proposal to be in a way that would be appealing to publisher, like that’s why you get an agent, they know what they’re doing so. They recreated a lot of things and the one thing that they harped on was the podcast and the podcast downloads and that was pretty much the main thing that they used to convince publishers to want to work with us.
And I found that to be really surprising. But as I got deeper into the process, and especially with publishing the book, I actually found that publishers are, they’re really into podcasters right now. And, I saw a really great article that just popped in my newsfeed in my Apple, on my phone, and it was about that from a major, I think it was Wall Street Journal or something that was like, you know, publishers, book deals, if you’re a podcaster you likely can get a book deal or something like that ’cause it was just like, it’s kinda the new blog for people in terms of engagement. So anyway, getting into this publishing process, it’s been really interesting because, I’ve heard this so many times, especially from my publicist, that they say “you know, you can go on Dr. Oz, you can go on The View but it really doesn’t result in many more sales. What does is getting on the number one health podcast show.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Noelle Tarr: So they put in a ton of effort into trying to help people get onto well known shows and I think it was very appealing for them that we were a podcast that had a pretty big following already but we were also pretty close friends with a lot of other podcasters and so that to them was like “yep, we definitely want you, we wanna sign you” and we got a lot of offers from publishers. And the publisher we ended up going was just the person we connected with and she didn’t change anything in our book. She didn’t make us be anything we weren’t and really went with our vision and our message and it’s because she knew it was backed by what we were doing, our podcast, this is all the stuff, basically, the book is the podcast, you know, in tangible form.
And she knew, like, you guys know what you’re doing. We’re not gonna talk about weight loss and getting six pack abs and all that kinda stuff and she was like “that’s totally fine, you know” we don’t even need to talk about it, you do you. And we’re gonna move forward with that so I think the majority of it had to do with the fact that we had a podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I feel like this interview we’re doing is a case in point for that. Like there are people now that are hearing about this book because you’re able to connect with us, you’re our podcasters so it makes sense to have it on. The book is “Coconuts and Kettlebells: A Personalized 4-Week Food and Fitness Plan for Long-Term Health, Happiness, and Freedom”. We’ll link to that. Another thing we’ll link to is that news article that you talked about, talking about this connection between podcasts and how influential they are and the impact that that can have on getting a book deal. How about for people that are interested in starting a podcast? That are kinda like “hey this kinda sounds like something that I wanna do”. What would you recommendation be for somebody who hears this and says “hey this kinda sounds cool.”
Noelle Tarr: Yeah, I would say first and foremost do your research and see what other people are doing. Start to listen to other podcasts that are like what you think you’re gonna do. Pick out the things that you like, pick out the things that you don’t like, start considering do I wanna cohost, what or who would that person be, what are the topics that we wanna discuss. And start to kinda do your research that way, your investigation so to speak, into what’s already out there and how can you be different. What’s your shtick, you know, how can you be, you don’t have to be drastically different if somebody’s doing exactly what you’re doing, that’s okay. But you can, you are unique, you get to provide it from your perspective, but you still have to have a shtick. So really start to formulate that idea and you likely already have something because you have a blog or you have an idea for a blog.
And next I would say, one of the things that I really did is, I did some research into what I needed to do. I didn’t wanna start a podcast and be using the computer microphone, you know. I wanted to start off strong and so I would encourage you to, one of the great resources for me early on was this guy named Pat Flynn. And he has a podcast and a website called “Smart Passive Income” and he has an entire blog post about just a step by step guide for how to start a podcast. And I followed that to the tee. And I listened to a lot of other podcasts about starting a podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Noelle Tarr: And tried to gain a lot of information about what are the things that I really need to focus on. And for me it was making sure I had a really good mic, I have sound panels up in this room that I’m talking in, you know I kinda went, I went all out in terms of, and not financially, I’m just saying how I started was how wanted to be three years in.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Noelle Tarr: And that’s what I did. So I just followed that step by step guide, I can send you that link and you can link to it in the show notes. And I just experimented and I gave it a go, you know. Start recording your voice, seeing how you sound, seeing what you like. But ultimately, you just gotta start, you know, and when you start and you start listening to yourself, you’ll get better. I would encourage you, too, to go listen to everybody’s first podcasts that they ever published.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Noelle Tarr: You’ll feel a lot better about yourself.
Bjork Ostrom: Concurred.
Noelle Tarr: Because I did that, I was very nervous and I started listening to everybody and I was like oh they kinda sucked, you know, that was, okay, I can suck too in the beginning, that’s gonna be okay and the more you listen to yourself, and I used to say “um” and “like” and “you know” all the time.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Noelle Tarr: And now it’s, of course I still do it, but I don’t do it as much. And I know how to speak so that people can hear things, I know how to articulate, I know what sounds a little goofy and what doesn’t, and what’s hard to understand and what’s not, and I know how I wanna present ideas and I think that this has actually helped me, hearing myself talk, and all that stuff, it’s actually helped me when I have speaking engagements and stuff like that. I’ve become a much better speaker and a communicator overall.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Absolutely. And the podcast episode, we have a podcast episode actually with Pat so we interviewed him back in episode 53
Noelle Tarr: How great!
Bjork Ostrom: So that was way back so if you go to foodbloggerpro.com/53, you can check that out, so.
Noelle Tarr: Awesome.
Bjork Ostrom: Any other last pieces of advice for people that are, they hear your story, they’re inspired by it, they wanna move forward, kind of in a similar direction. What would your last piece of advice be for them?
Noelle Tarr: Kinda reiterate what I was saying before but I think that you can’t say this enough, which is, there’s gonna be a period of time where you’re not gonna see a huge return on your investment. It’s gonna feel like is anybody listening? You know, is anybody reading this? Is any, it’s just the same way with the blog. And there’ll be where you don’t know and it really, I think success is about being able to push through those times, to remain consistent through those times, and to continue to try to become better, but also understand it just takes continuing and moving through those times and not quitting, not giving up.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Noelle Tarr: And realizing that success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a long term game, it takes a while and that’s okay. You don’t have to be an overnight success. It’s about putting in the time and the years.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. And I know a lot of people are gonna listen to this and say “I want to listen to that podcast” and that’s a great thing about being on podcasts is that people that are listening to this understand podcasts. So Noelle, where can they find your podcast and follow along with what you guys are up to?
Noelle Tarr: Yeah, so the podcast is now called the “Well-Fed Women” podcast and my website and the book is just “Coconuts and Kettlebells”, so that’s where you find everything.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, and like all of those other resources, we’ll make sure to link to those in the show notes but Noelle, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, for sharing your insights, your story, and I know it’ll be really inspiring for other people as well.
Noelle Tarr: Thanks for having me.
Alexa Peduzzi: Oh hey there, Alexa here, wrapping up this awesome podcast episode and I’m here to give you the review of the week. And this one comes from Dawn Aldridge and it says “I love how this podcast focuses on the technical side of food blogging. Maybe not on purpose but it is clear Bjork enjoys digging into the technical aspects of blogging like I do. A lot of websites focus on the big picture concepts but Bjork asks the questions that get down to the technical how to of how to actually make improvements to your blog.”
And that is so true, if you guys have spent any time on Food Blogger Pro or have spent any time listening to the podcast, you probably agree Bjork really loves the technical stuff but he also has a really awesome understanding of the people person information as well. So he’s just a really awesome resource that we have here at Food Blogger Pro and we are just so excited to have him. And thank you for tuning in today. I know I mention this all the time but this podcast just means so much to me, so much to Bjork, and so much to the Food Blogger Pro team so we just so appreciate that you decided to tune in today and listen to this interview. So, from all of us here at FBP HQ, make it a great week.