Welcome to episode 114 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks with Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer from Thriving Home Blog about working as a partnership on their blog.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked to Ashley Walterhouse from Fit Mitten Kitchen about working with brands, building her following, and growing her Instagram account to over 90K followers in two years. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Run a Successful Blog as a Partnership
A blog is typically started as a sole venture, but Polly and Rachel decided to start their blog, Thriving Home, as a team.
While they both have different personalities, they use those differences to their advantage to divide tasks and grow their business. But even though they’re running their blog as a team, anyone can take lessons away from the way they treat their blog as a business. You’ll learn how they made their first $1, the most important thing that makes their partnership work, and the intentional way they invest back into their business, and more.
In this episode, Polly and Rachel share:
- How Polly and Rachel met
- Why they decided to start a blog together
- How they work with their different personalities
- What they focused on when they first started blogging together
- How they compliment each other
- How they navigate difficulties in a partnership
- What their State of the Unions look like
- How they divide responsibilities
- How they handle constructive criticism
- How they decided to start working on their blog full-time
- How they divide their income and how they decide what to invest in
- Why they set up their business as an S-Corp
- What their typical days look like
- Thriving Home
- Dave Ramsey
- From Freezer to Table Cookbook – releasing September 12!
- Profit First
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: Hey there friends. Every once in a while, we do an intro to the intro and we only do it when we have a really special announcement, which we do today. On September 12th, which, if you listen to this podcast in real time as it’s released, is coming up shortly, we’re doing a sponsored content bootcamp. We hear from people all the time that want to know more about sponsored content, influencer marketing and how to go about doing that with their blog. Questions like: How do I price my content? How do I know that I’m charging enough? How do I even get into it? A lot of people ask, what is the process you use for Pinch of Yum?
We’re gonna be talking about all of that stuff at a sponsored content bootcamp on September 12th and it’s completely free. How do you sign up? Just go to foodbloggerpro.com/bootcamp and that will bring you to the page where you can sign up and attend the bootcamp. It’s gonna be a live event, which means that we’re gonna be broadcasting live. It’s not gonna be in person, so you can attend in your pajamas if you want to and we’re gonna be doing four sessions throughout the day. We’re gonna be doing two sessions with Danielle Liss from Hashtag Legal. She has a lot of experience in the influencer marketing category. She’s gonna be talking about how to price your content. We’re gonna be going through marketing tools that you can use and how you can implement those if you’re doing sponsored content. We’re gonna be talking the process that Pinch of Yum uses and explain how sponsored content works for us. Then we’re gonna be doing a Q&A session at the end of the day.
If you can’t attend those live sessions, if you sign up, they’ll also be available to watch for the next 24 hours and then what happens is we integrate those into Food Blogger Pro, so Food Blogger Pro members are able to access those and consume those on an ongoing basis whenever they want. If you watch it in live, or almost live, real time, then you’re gonna be able to attend for free. Again, you can sign up by going to foodbloggerpro.com/bootcamp. It’s the one-day sponsored content bootcamp. We’re super excited to share it with you and I know that you’re gonna get a lot out of it. Okay, intro to the intros done, let’s jump into the real intro.
In this episode, we talk to Rachel Tiemeyer and Polly Conner from the Thriving Home blog about how they made their first dollar, the most important thing that’s made their partnership work and the intentional way that they invest back into their blog and business.
Hey everybody, it’s Bjork Ostrom coming to you from St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a beautiful time of the year, not only because of the weather, but also because we are in State Fair time for Minnesota. It is a beautiful, beautiful time for most people, because the Great Minnesota Get-Together is what they call it. If you’ve never been to Minnesota, you gotta make sure that when you come out, it is during this time because it is such a unique experience to go to the Minnesota State Fair.
That has nothing to do with what we’re going to be talking about today, just a fun little fact for you. What we’re going to be talking about today is actually, believe it or not, blogging business and more specifically we’re gonna be talking about partnerships. We’re gonna be talking to Rachel and Polly from the Thriving Home blog. We’re gonna be talking about, not only some kind of behind the scenes tips and tricks and advice that they’d have for how they built their blog over the years, but they’re also going to be talking about what it’s been like to work as a partnership. One of the things that I love about this conversation, is that not only does it apply to a business partnership, but also a lot of the things that they talk about apply to working with people, even if it’s in a relationship, like maybe you work with a contractor, or designer, or a consultant, or you have a team member that helps out. A lot of the things that they’re talking about for why they’re partnership is successful can transfer over and can be applied to those other relationships that you have.
Maybe you are a solopreneur, you have your own thing, but eventually some time down the line, you’re gonna be working with other people and the things that we’re talking about in today’s podcast episode can be used in those relationships as well. It’s gonna be a great interview, really excited to share it with you, so let’s go ahead and jump in. Rachel and Polly, welcome to the podcast.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, thanks for having us Bjork.
Polly Conner: Thanks.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, super fun to be here. I’m trying to think, this might be one of the, if not the first podcast interview where we’re had two people on, which is really exciting and it’s the first time that we’ve had for sure two people in different locations, so this is really us leveraging technology for all that we can.
Polly Conner: Let’s hope it works.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I saw that I really appreciated, and I think this was in your bio Polly, is that right? Where your nickname was like the tech …
Polly Conner: High tech grandma.
Bjork Ostrom: High tech grandma. Yeah, thank you. This is like, this further allows you to claim that nickname by us having a three-way recorded Skype conversation here.
Polly Conner: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Excited to have you guys on here and it will be really fun. I will do my best to kind of direct questions as we get into it, because we can’t see each other, but Polly, or Rachel actually, I’d be interested to hear you talk a little bit about your story and how you got started. We were chatting a little bit before and it sounds like there’s maybe kind of an interesting start or story for the genesis of the Thriving Home blog.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, it’s a little bit of a serendipitous story here. When I graduated from University of Missouri in 2000 and for the first seven years after I graduated, I got to be a part of helping plant a church in Columbia, Missouri where we lived and worked in the Children’s Ministry and also with our high school students. I did that for about seven years and then got pregnant and we had our first child and I decided to stay home full time and then just work part-time for our church. At that point, our church had grown enough to where they needed to hire someone for the Children’s Ministry to take that part of my job, and then also the student Ministry. We met this young kind of new graduate out of college, a girl named Polly and we liked her, we’d heard she’s a lot of fun.
Polly Conner: She was really cute, really fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah right, she checked all the boxes.
Rachel Tiemeyer: We heard from a lot of our high school kids what an impact she had been making in their life, because Polly, weren’t you involved in, was it Young Life?
Polly Conner: Yeah, I was really involved in Young Life at that point and then in our church as well, so I overlapped a lot of kids.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Long story short, we hired Polly to take my job in 2007 and we kind of forged a friendship over the next year or so and in 2008, we both started separate blogs and I think, mine was a Blog Spot, what was your blog Polly?
Polly Conner: Yeah, I was on Blogger, for sure.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Or Blogger, is that what it’s called? Blogger. I can’t even remember, that was a long time ago. We started these really amateur blogs and they were really different. Mine was more the healthy food bent and at that time, actually my son had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease as a toddler, and so I started a blog and really started to learn about what does it mean to eat healthy, feed my family well. Started learning how to cook and I posted recipes and then Polly, what was yours about at that time?
Polly Conner: Mine, I don’t even want to say the name of it, it’s embarrassing. It was more like the DIY, crafty kind of saving money type blog. I was really, really into repurposing furniture and going to thrift stores and repurposing things.
Bjork Ostrom: For you, when you were starting those blogs Polly, when you were working on this DIY craft, nameless, anonymous blog, was there an intent of, “I know this can grow into something and I want it to become something.” Or was it more of a creative outlet and you posting content about something you’re interested in? For each of you, Polly you can answer first, how much of the intent behind it was building it into something, versus just a creative outlet?
Polly Conner: You know, this is kind of before the blogging explosion. I had no idea at that point that you could actually make money off of blogs, so it was purely for hobby. I just really … It was kind of like the advanced form of scrapbooking for me, and I was a scrapbooker up until there was technology to do it with. I just really did it because I loved it and so we kind of refined our skills just because it was fun. I got a little bit better at photography, learned how to write a little better. Learned how to basically craft a post just by practice, and so I did have one person reach out to me like, “Hey, have you ever thought about monetizing your blog?” “What does monetizing mean? I don’t even know what that word is.” I think that idea got planted later on. I think Rachel’s story is similar and that’s when we kind of were like, you know … Well, I’ll back up. I’ll let Rachel say. Rachel, did you do your first blog wanting to make money?
Rachel Tiemeyer: No, I was in the same boat as you, but remember Polly how we used to, we started seeing some bloggers through this thing where they would do blog post swaps or something like that.
Rachel Tiemeyer: What was it called? We started cross posting on each other’s blogs. I don’t know, it probably wasn’t at all like SEO friendly at all, but I’d put a recipe on her blog and she’d write something on mine. That was kind of really fun for us to learn how to start doing that and being connected more. Then in 2011, Polly you had your first kid in 2010, right?
Polly Conner: 2009, yeah.
Rachel Tiemeyer: No, 20-
Polly Conner: Nope sorry, 2011. Sorry.
Bjork Ostrom: This is when you know that you’ve worked together a long time.
Polly Conner: Too many kids. She knows the dates of my children and …
Rachel Tiemeyer: In 2010, Polly became a stay-at-home mom/work at home mom, soon to be. We were both stay-at-home moms at that point and then we started, remember Polly? We were on the phone together and we started talking about, “What if we started a business together? What if it was starting a blog, not as a hobby, but starting a blog as a business?” That’s what really started it. It was in 2011.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, so when you look back and you say, “Okay, I can think back to this time period. I remember having this conversation.” At that point, you had realized that this would be a possibility? What was it at that point that gave you kind of that leading indicator that, “Hey, we could do this.” Where now, six years down the line you are doing it, you’re running it as a business. What were the things that you looked at, at that point, and would be interested to hear you talk about this Polly, where you said, “Hey, I think this might be a possibility.”
Polly Conner: Well, one I think I just really enjoyed Rachel as a friend and I thought, this is someone … Hey, if this is a total bust, at least we had fun doing it, you know? It was kinda like, well we’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s just give it a shot. I knew that Rachel and I would work really well together as business partners and even as friends, so if we’re gonna take an adventure on something, at least it’s gonna be with her. Then I think it was just seeing other people a few steps ahead of us do it. It was just like, "Okay, this is a mom who stays at home, who’s earning a part-time income and our blog is just as good as theirs. We can write pretty well and decent at being strategic with business-minded stuff.
I think it was a little bit just seeing other people out there doing it. For me anyway and then it really is just kind of a trial thing, we didn’t have much on the line. We joke around that it was like a big struggle to both put $50 forward to hire hosting plan. I had to talk to my husband. My husband was in school at that time, the budget was super tight, I’m like, “Okay, it’s gonna be $50.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure remember yep what that’s like. As you get into it and I’m gonna tell a quick story here to frame the context for this question. Lindsay and I have this recurring joke and we talk about Brighton almonds. Before we had the blog, we were married and I said, “Lindsay, I have this idea and I think we should …” Maybe it was during, the blog was super early, but it wasn’t like something that we were doing as a job yet. I said, “I have this idea for creating a business called Brighton Almonds.” We lived in a city called New Brighton and it was kind of a play on that. Also, the idea was you would brighten somebody else’s day, because you would order almonds. My idea was that they’re be chocolate covered almonds, and then you would order a bag of the almonds, but then you would send a smaller bag to somebody that you liked or cared about, or wanted to send this bag to.
Then it would be kind of like this viral marketing thing, where then they would get this thing of Brighton almonds and she was like, “Oh great idea.” We started talking about it and we got 15 minutes in, and then it’s like we had this disagreement where we were like, “No, that’s not the direction it should go.” Then it just all crumbled. It was this empire that we had built and destroyed in 15 minutes. I’m interested to hear you talk about what it was like when you first started to get into it, because I feel like inevitably what happens in a partnership, and that’s one of the things I’d like to focus in on for this podcast, is your partnership and how you’ve worked through that. I feel like one of the things that inevitably happens is you get to this point where you’re like, “Oh, and now we disagree and we have a differing opinion.”
I’m interesting to hear specifically when you first got started what that was like to work through those? Maybe what that was? Then how you continue to work through that today, because I’m sure it comes up and Rachel, I’d be interested to hear you talk about it first.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, Polly and I were talking the other day about, it was actually really nice that when we launched Thriving Home in January 2012, the stakes were really low for us. Like she had said, we put in $50 each and to us it was still sort of this labor of love. It still is a labor of love today, but it was a hobby that we were like, “Oh this is fun. We’ll see what it turns in to, versus our livelihood depends on it.” We didn’t have that much riding on it at that point. That kind of helped us, we didn’t have as much pressure on ourselves to have really, really high quality everything. I don’t remember Polly, really butting heads all that much at the beginning. I mean we did have to work through the design. I remember tediously working through the design and that’s where our personality differences began, didn’t they Polly?
Polly Conner: Yes, I learned real quick that Rachel is a perfectionist and I am not. I am so focused on getting things done, I just want to complete the project and move on to the next thing. Rachel’s like, very tedious and slow to make decisions, which is again, we learned is our both strengths. That was the first kind of slight annoyance we probably ran into with each other. She’s probably like, “Slow the heck down.” I’m like, “Come on, keep up with me.”
Bjork Ostrom: When you look back, I want to come back to that and also really interesting, one of the things that you had talked about Rachel, and I think people can relate to this, is the stakes are low when you’re starting, because maybe not a lot of people are coming and reading and you know it’s not like this, it’s $50 that you’re putting in, not 50,000, so there’s not that inherent pressure. It’s sweat equity, but if the stakes are not high, I feel like the accountability can also be like, “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” In those early stages, how did you put in the time and the effort needed to get something off of the ground, knowing that there wasn’t this inherent pressure and that the stakes were low. Did you have an agreement in terms of, hey we’re each gonna do one post a week, or was it loose enough and you each were motivated enough to create that content consistently?
Rachel Tiemeyer: I think that was kind of a both and Polly and I are both self-starters. We’re go-getters. If we’re super excited about something, it’s hard for us to turn it off. That’s partially why we work well together and knew we could be partners. On the other hand, we both knew, even just from our experience working on church staff, if that you do need to have expectations set up. You do need to be on the same page with the vision and values of what you want to do with your blog. We did have some of those preempted conversations, a lot of them actually at the beginning, where we said, one of our big things just for us was that our families would come first. We knew we didn’t want this blog to be something that became so big. We still are fighting that off, but we’re trying to balance that with making our kids and our husband, our home first.
I think, Polly maybe you remember better than I do, but I think we’re always kind of had, “Hey, we’re gonna each …” In fact, at the beginning I think we each posted twice a week, so we had two posts a week, and we learned fairly quickly that it’s hard to produce high quality content when you’re working part-time and trying to wear these other hats as well.
Polly Conner: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That was something that you started out, you were posting a consistent amount, two times a week, and then learned, "Oh, if we want to do all of these, if we want to check all these other boxes, if we want to be present to our family, to our spouse. If we want to be present to our part-time job that you also had at the time, then also create content for the blog, you’re gonna have to scale it down. Do less, but do higher quality. Is that the general idea with what you’re saying?
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, over the last few years, that’s more where we’ve landed, is instead of trying to get as many blog posts up as we can, when we do post, it’s gonna be high quality content, or at least we’re striving for that.
Polly Conner: I have something to add to that real quick, is when we started the blog and those beginner bloggers will know this, your only focus at the time is getting content. We didn’t have all the side projects, we didn’t have all the sponsored stuff, we didn’t really even have a good email list at that point, so emails weren’t a big deal. Really, our only focus was content, but as those side projects, the stuff outside of content creation started growing, that’s when we started to feel the pull of, “I can’t do two posts a week, we’re gonna have to readjust here.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, Lindsay’s talked about that recently where she was like, yeah, I was doing two to three posts a week and I had a full-time job and just feeling like now it feels so different. It’s such a struggle to get content out, but it’s like you step back and the business itself looks just so drastically different. Like you said, sponsored content, Lindsay’s doing workshops. We have a team that we’re working with, so things change and it’s interesting how that variable of how many times are you posting a week is such a strong variable to look back on, but I think it’s valuable like you were saying, to step back a little bit and look at it and say, “Okay, so that maybe has changed, which is okay given the fact that I have these other things now that I’m fully investing in as well.”
You had talked about how your personalities are different. One of you is, Polly you move forward to get stuff done. Rachel, I think in our email back and forth, you described it as Polly plows forward and then you come behind and kind of clean up the mess. That I feel like, it’s interesting. I would say the closest thing that I have that I can compare that to, is Lindsay and I working together. I think maybe people are surprised by the fact of we’re not in the same room working together a lot, but we do talk through stuff and make decisions together and we partner on things a lot. We also have complimentary skills that work in that same way. I think Lindsay and maybe similar to you Polly, is like kind of a go-getter and a starter and is on the ground and doing that work. I love to be high up and thinking about ideas and looking 10,000 feet ahead. Whereas Lindsay would be like, “Well, let’s look 10 feet ahead.” It’s a really good compliment for each other and it feels like the same thing is true for the two of you.
Rachel, I’m interested to hear you talk about that. Do you think that’s by luck that that has happened? If you were both similar, if you were both perfectionists, or both people who would just jump in and get it done and move forward, chances are that balls would get dropped and things wouldn’t be able to move forward as well as they’ve done. Do you feel that was kind of a lucky happenstance that that happened, or do you feel like you kind of fill those roles?
Rachel Tiemeyer: I think it was a bit of happenstance, because if you would ask me when we started, I would hae said Polly and I are exactly alike. We both really loved this idea of being self-starters and we both like to work hard and we love to work at night and all those kind of things. The thing over the past five and half years as we’ve been working together that we recognized, is both of us have weaknesses that are very clear. We worked together and both of us have strengths and we’ve become, although sometimes they can be annoying to one another, like Polly will be like, “Rachel, just let it go. It’s fine. Let’s move forward.” Or I’ll say, “Polly, you gotta slow down. This has to be done right. We can’t publish this until it’s done right.” Those things can be annoying, but they’re also, we’ve just really come to recognize how valuable that is in our partnership as well.
Polly Conner: That is just one of the main benefits of working with someone, is you get both strengths into one deal. I’m sure you recognize with Lindsay, there’s no way you would be where you are without her and vice versa.
Bjork Ostrom: 100%
Polly Conner: That’s how we feel about each other. There’s no way that Thriving Home would be worth that or we’d be publishing a cookbook without the other person here with me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah and it’s interesting because one of the things I think a lot about is, I feel like I have all of these different situations where I’m able to look at them and say, it’s kinda like the devil and angel on your shoulder, except it’s not like the devil and angel. It’s like two opposing opinions going head-to-head and one of them is this idea of partnerships and I’m really interested in personal finance and then I’m also really interested in start-ups. In the start-up world, it’s really, really strongly encouraged that you have some type of partnership, because if you’re gonna start a company, you need to have somebody that you can rely on that will keep you accountable, that will complement your strengths or weaknesses, depending on how you look at it.
Then there’s this guy who does personal finance, his name is Dave Ramsey, he’s a really popular podcast and radio show and just a general guru guy. He talks about this idea of partnerships. He says the only ship that doesn’t sail is a partnership. He talks to people about that as they’re starting businesses, so it’s interesting to dive into this conversation with you and to talk about the strengths and the weaknesses and how they complement each other. Some obvious strengths in that where somebody’s weak, you’re able to be strong and I think the accountability piece is the other thing. If you take a week off, you’re gonna be accountable in a different way than if it was just you. I’m guessing there’s also some things that are difficult about it that wouldn’t exist if it was just you. Interested to hear each of you talk about what some of those difficulties are that you’ve had to navigate and how you’re navigated those. Polly, you can kick it off.
Polly Conner: Yeah, I think when we started, Rachel was in a really, really busy season of life. She had three kids at home and I had just had a baby at home. The work balance, we both were 50/50, we always have been, but it was like she wasn’t available when I needed her. You know? Why do we need to talk about this right now? She was juggling three kids and now, a little bit that’s flipped. Now, all her kids are in school and I have little kids at home, and so I think when there’s tension in that. One way we have worked through that, is that we have what you call State of the Union meetings twice a year. This came out of just necessity, honestly. It was kind of like, things would kind of build up, but there was no chance to talk about it because when we had a chance to talk, it was all about work on the blog or whatever.
We’re kinda like, “I think we need to have these established questions that we ask ourselves twice a year.” Pretty much divide up the year in that way and just make sure there’s a healthy balance of work. Make sure we’re both happy with our roles, make sure there’s nothing that we need to share about what’s been going well, something that we can get off our chest in a way. It worked really well to have those, whether things were good or bad in our working relationship. Again, we never really had a bad season, but I think there was a time where I know I personally felt some, “I feel like I’m carrying a lot of the weight of this right now.” She was real busy and so it was nice to sit down and ask those questions and you be able to say, “Okay, I have this, this and this on my plate, can you take something?”
That actually has been a really good solution for us, is to have those meetings consistently to able to have a chance to express any concerns or any building problems. Another thing, a kind of a motto that we have been using, is keeping short accounts. Again, it’s kinda just like a good healthy relationship principle to be honest, with a marriage, friend or whatever. If something happens that kind of rubs you the wrong way, you just talk about it real fast. You don’t let it build, don’t let it fester. You just say, “You know, it just kinda bothered me.” We don’t have too many of those, but just, if something’s not feeling right, if something’s off or maybe a tone was a little rough over an email, just talk about it right then and just clarify how you’re feeling about that. That’s been, I think, part of the reason that it’s been a working healthy relationship so far.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. Is there anything that you’d want to add to that Rachel? I had some follow-up questions as well.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Well, you know it’s kinda funny. Just kind of a big picture view of maybe a challenge or whatever. If a partnership, in kind of a strange way, it’s almost like a marriage and a sense that you have to trust that person so much. I mean, you’re making financial decisions together. You’re making big business decisions together. It takes a ton of communication. It takes conflict resolution and we’ve just realized, and thankfully like I said, we got to start when the stakes were low, but our business has grown and grown each year and like Polly said, we have a book coming out in about a month. The bigger your business gets, the more intertwined your lives are.
Thankfully, I will say, I’ve said this to Polly many times over the years, I’m really thankful for her because she is a person who, and I’ve learned this from her, is if she just feels the slightest hint of something feels wrong here, or I feel like a tension building, she will immediately call me in a very kinda way, like say, “Hey, I’m feeling this.” We’re able to be really honest with each other and I value that. I’m really thankful for that.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s one of the biggest things with any relationship, is being able to have the confidence that you can speak freely about what you’re thinking or what you’re feeling. One of the things that I love about this podcast episode, is that I think that it will translate, not only to people that are doing official partnerships, but also as people think about, how do I bring people on to this project or bring people in to the business and work and start to build a team, because that’s such an important element of it as well. Whether it’s an official business partnership, or a day-to-day working partnership to be able to speak openly like that I think is so important.
I want to do back to the State of the Union. You talked about doing this twice a year. I’m curious to know what those questions are. You had mentioned that there’s a set of questions that you go through, so can you talk a little bit about that Rachel and how those are structured? Is it official? Is it pretty casual? What does that look like?
Rachel Tiemeyer: I’m gonna pass this one off to Polly, because I think you actually wrote out those questions, right Polly? I’ll chime in.
Polly Conner: I’m frantically trying to find it on our Google Docs. I’m not able to find it, but I will try to.
Bjork Ostrom: You can talk at a high level too, of kind of what it is. The general idea.
Polly Conner: Yeah, so I think we do start out with the questions just at high level of how are you feeling about Thriving Home? Is it stressful? Is it a place of creative outlet for you? Just overall, when you’ve been in business for five years, as you know, blogging, there are just so many ups and downs. Sometimes you’re like, “I’m done. This isn’t going anywhere.” Other times you feel like, “I could work on it for hours.” I think just evaluating how the other person is feeling, it’s still kind of level and are we keeping our priorities straight? Are you keeping your family first? Are you keeping your other commitments in line with the blog?
Then we do get detailed of like, “Okay, what do you have on your plate right now?” We even have a division of labor document that we know who’s in charge of what. That doesn’t mean we don’t cross over and help each other, but it’s like I’m the point person when it comes to the email stuff and Rachel’s the point person when it comes to business relationships. I’m the point person when it come to tech stuff and she … There’s that division of labor, but we just, blogging things are always evolving and new things are coming on your plate and some things are leaving, so we just have to evaluate semester by semester pretty much like, are we still 50/50? That’s our goal, we really like to keep things 50% in every way.
I think the last time we met, Rachel’s like, “I’ve got so many deadline things on my plate.” She does our weekly menu plan that she’s been working with Hy-Vee with and then she was also doing the weekly email. I’m like, “Okay, pass the weekly email to me. I’ll take on that. It was just again, a good time to evaluate and be like, Rachel was pretty bogged down and I was actually kinda freed up at that moment, so we swapped things there. We do have kind of a harder question at the very end of it like, ”What’s something that the other person is doing well, and what’s something that maybe constructive criticism? Something that you’ve noticed. I’ll put, I’ll throw myself under the bus. Like Rachel said, I’m kind of a steam roller. I just want to move forward and often times my emails can sounds kind of abrupt because I don’t fluff them up very often. At one point Rachel was like, “You know,” In that conversation she’s like, “I’m thinking you try, just think about there’s a person on the other end.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I totally get it. Lindsay and I have this recurring joke where we say, with email, all lower case, no punctuation. Even if it’s not, the idea being, oh it’s one of those emailers. I totally get it, as opposed to a heart emoji, or the hug emoji.
Rachel Tiemeyer: I always feel loved when I read your wife’s blog post. She’s totally a person that I feel loved about you.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, and she has a skill for communicating that in voice. It’s interesting, because I’ve noticed that with some people in my life, where they’re not email communicators, so then you talk to them in person and it’s like, of course, super warm, super friendly, but maybe are more task oriented or just have more email to process through. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed with a lot of my friends, especially that work in Corporate jobs, is that they’re processing so much email throughout the day that it’s not assumed that you’ll have the formalities that are involved with it. Then I think if it gets outside of that bubble of the corporate communication and it lands on somebody that’s not used to that, then it can land differently. Anyways, I can totally understand and relate to that. This doesn’t have anything to do with it, but I’m curious to know what the Hy-Vee menu plan thing is that you had mentioned. Is that something you’re working on Rachel?
Rachel Tiemeyer: A couple years ago, this is kind of a funny story, but Hy-Vee is a grocery chain in the Midwest. We have three of them here in our town and Polly and I both, just as young moms at the time, that’s where we basically only shopped because it was so easy to get in and out and they really make it a good experience for families. One day I was talking to the manager, I’d gotten to know him and I said, “Hey, I absolutely love your store. I mean it’s just so great.” We got talking and he was like, “Oh you run a blog?” I said, this is the funniest thing, we had just been featured in a magazine. It was on the rack right behind me and I go, “Yeah, actually.”
Bjork Ostrom: Oh yes, sweet tie-in.
Polly Conner: Planted.
Rachel Tiemeyer: I know, it’s like planted. I said, “We’re in this magazine right here.” He goes, “Oh my gosh, you guys, you’re a real deal.” At that point, I said, I had this in my head for a while, I’d been thinking about this idea. I said, “Hey, would you guys ever want to work together? We’re not necessarily a local blog, but we do reach quite a few people around Columbia area.” He said, “Absolutely, I would love to. Let me talk to the other managers at the other stores, and maybe we can come up with a plan.” We’ve actually been working with them for several years on sponsored content.
One of the ongoing things we’ve been doing, which has been awesome, is once a week we’ve got a menu plan that we come up with. I was already doing this, but he said, “What if we paired our sale items with your menu plan?” That’s what we do. They basically sponsor that post, but it’s really great content for our readers and it’s great content for anyone, not just Columbia.
Bjork Ostrom: Really nice to have from a business perspective, the recurring element of it where you can kind of create a little system around it and it’s not like you’re having to reboot that partnership. You get on the same page and then you can kind of move forward with it. That’s cool.
Polly Conner: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to talk, or to hear you talk about some of the nitty gritty details. We don’t have to get deep into the weeds, but would love to hear you talk about how things are structured in terms of what does the business look like? Do you pay yourselves a salary? How do you decide what that is? Before getting into that, the leading question that I’d like to start with is, at what point did you realize, oh this could be our thing. Maybe we don’t have our part-time jobs. We leave those and we work on the blog as our job. Do you remember when that was Polly?
Polly Conner: We joke around, we didn’t make our paycheck until a year and a half after blogging, which is the story of most blogs that don’t think of that. I think we starting making, I think we put ourselves at $50 a month, “Woohoo!” We thought it was gold. Things started increasing after that and I’d say I think a big turning point for us is when we partnered with Frigidaire. They reached out to us. We’ve kind of cornered the market on freezer cooking online. We’re kinda the number one Google search responses if someone searches for healthy freezer meals. I think Frigidaire found us that way and that was our first time a big business had reached out to us. Working with that directly, we were pretty proud. We realized they paid too, we were like, “Oh, this is something here. We can actually-”
Bjork Ostrom: This is a thing here.
Polly Conner: Yeah. We can actually say no to our other part-time jobs to work on this because it pays better. I think that was a big turning point financially speaking that we felt like, for me anyway, it was kinda like, “This is actually going somewhere. I think we’re really gonna do something here.” Do you want me to go on to the structure?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so before that, was there a point where you had realized then, oh this is gonna be a thing. We should set this up officially as a business, like a partnership LLC or, did you do that right from the start? Or was there a point where you were like, we should probably do this now.
Polly Conner: Yeah, luckily my dad is a lawyer and so right off the bat, he had worked with many businesses, start-ups and everything. He pretty much right at the get-go he was like, “Well, you need to register as an LLC partnership.” I didn’t even know what that was at the time. Right off the bat we did register as that, but go ahead Rach.
Rachel Tiemeyer: You probably know more about this than we do, but that’s to protect our personal assets, right? To shelter us from any kind of financial damage that could occur.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, like the idea of literally limiting your liability when you’re starting out to kind of put this, separate things out and to have that divide. Okay, so you were able to do that early on, which is great. I think it’s something that people think about a lot, but maybe don’t act on right away. Nice to have that connection with your dad, always nice to have a lawyer in the family.
Polly Conner: A lawyer in the family?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Polly Conner: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Polly Conner: We opened a joint bank account online that we both had access to. Again, it was separate from our personal accounts. It was just our Thriving Home bank account. That way we could both have access to that and deposit money and take money out as needed. That was one practical way. We also used PayPal as a method of keeping track of our business stuff, separate from all of our personal stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Did you each see the business with some money to start, or were you scrappy enough that the money that came in, we kind of joked about the $50 for hosting. Did you keep funds really, the investments into the business really restricted at first knowing that hey, we’re gonna bootstrap this in the purest sense and not have to seed it with anything?
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, I think we pretty much only invested that $50. Then from there Polly and I both really had philosophy of, we’re just gonna keep reinvesting, reinvesting in this business. Even to this day, I don’t know how much you want to talk about how we divide up. You asked about how we pay ourselves.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’d love to talk about that and also, if you could talk about what you mean by reinvesting and what that looks like. Both of those things would be interesting.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Every month, I’m kind of our financial side of things, which is kind of funny, because I’m no expert in that area. Polly and I always joked that you have to be really mediocre at lots of things to be able to be a blogger, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Rachel Tiemeyer: I’m the mediocre financial officer, I guess, in our pair. Every month I go through and I look at, actually your income reports were really helpful for us all those years and we would break down what we make, much like you have over the years Bjork. We’d look at our income and how we made money. We’d look at how much we spent and then we’d come to the baseline of here’s how much we actually made this month. Then I’d divide it in half, actually before I divide it in half, we always would take out what we needed to save to pay taxes, then we would always save 20% for savings. We’re gonna save 20% and that’s going to be, like I said, reinvested into the business. Usually, about once a year, try to think through what are the things that we really want to invest in? We did a blog redesign this past year. That was a large investment. We bought photography equipment last summer, that was a big investment. We’re just always thinking how can we improve and grow with that 20%?
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great and I think that would be a really big take-away for people that are listening. To intentionally step back each month and to look and to say, “Okay, how much is coming in? What is the profit?” Obviously, profit being revenue minus expenses. What’s left over after we’ve paid everything? The thing that you do that I think is so important that I don’t think a lot of people do, is to take out those taxes right away.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s been multiple times where it’ll get to the end of a quarter, or worse, the end of the year, like a tax year and we’ll go in to our accountant and say, “Okay, here’s our details. Here’s QuickBooks.” They factor all this out and it’s like, “You’re gonna owe the IRS a bunch of money.” It’s always such a painful check to write if you’re not expecting it. Can you talk about how you do that and why you do that? Was that something you’ve always done from the beginning and just knew that was best practice when you’re starting out and in a business?
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, we did do that from the beginning, but we more recently, and I’m glad we did for that very reason what you’re just talking about, is every year we get to the end of the year. We’d actually over saved a lot of times, which was gonna be fun, because then we were like, paid our taxes and now we have dividends to divide up. We just actually, more recently, switched to become an S corp, which I heard you talk about on the podcast not too long ago. Now we have this great accountant who’s helping us thankfully. We pay taxes quarterly at this point and he does all that for us.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s really nice to have. We were talking about that a little bit before the podcast started, but it’s so nice to have those people where it’s like, “Here’s the situation, can you help me get that set up?” For those that are listening, even if you’re in first year, two, three years of getting started, I’d really encourage you to think about finding that person. You guys talk about how beneficial that was. It was one of the first hires that we had. It’s not a team member or somebody that we’re working with every day, but it was somebody that we knew that we really need to have a good understand of how that worked and how that was structured. That’s was hugely beneficial. We just actually, as an aside tied into that, switched over to being really intentional each month tracking taxes and saying, “Okay, at the end of this month, based on what we pay ourselves as a salary,” because we’re an S corp, like an LLC S corp, taxes in S corp structured as an LLC. I don’t know the specifics of how that works, but taking that out each month.
We actually have a tax savings account that’s kind of hidden from me to see anywhere, so it’s like I don’t factor that in when I’m looking anywhere, because then it makes it less sad to pay taxes. Do you guys have a separate account that you put it into? Or is that like, “Hey, we know that we have a savings account and a tax account, but we know that the taxes are part of that.” Or is it two separate savings accounts?
Rachel Tiemeyer: We, in an ideal world, would do exactly what you’re talking about and I’m trying to work towards that. At this point, it’s all kind of in one pot and I know percentage wise where it’s going.
Bjork Ostrom: What that is.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. There’s something about the simplicity of not having multiple accounts, that’s one of the bummers. You can end up setting up a bunch of these accounts and I read this book and I’m trying to think of the name of it. It’s a guy that wrote, have you ever heard of the Duck Tape Marketing book?
Rachel Tiemeyer: No.
Polly Conner: Uh-uh.
Bjork Ostrom: This is me going on like a frantic googling spree here to see and it’s stalling as I talk, to see if I can get to the point where I find this. Maybe it wasn’t Duck Tape Marketing. I’ll figure it out and then I’ll mention it at the end of the podcast episode when I do the ending, but the whole idea is that you’re paying yourself first. One of the concepts that he has, is like you have all of these different savings accounts and those savings accounts hold payroll and it holds taxes, and it holds the investments that you put back into the business, which is what you were talking about. The really small thing that we took away from that was like, “I’m gonna set up an entirely different account and just have that for taxes.” I think that’s-
Polly Conner: Smart.
Bjork Ostrom: Such an important take-away and also not very helpful, because I can’t remember the book. I’ll tie that in at the end. The way that you have it structured, at the end of each month you’re processing through that. You’re saving 20%. You’re using that to reinvest into the business. You’re putting the taxes aside and then you take what’s remaining and then you divide that up and then you issue dividends. Is that official what you call it, or can you talk about how that works? Dividends versus salary or how that’s structured?
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, all of this … You’re catching us at a time when we literally just switched over to this S corp direction, so now we actually do get a salary as a way to, and this is saving us a ton of money in taxes, setting up this way. Previous to that, the last five years, the way I just done it was I guess it would be called dividends right? I took what was left after that, divided it in half and I said, “Hey Polly, take this money from our account to our account.” I would take that much from the account to my personal account. Now, it’s a little different now because our accountant actually draws it out and does all this tax stuff. I don’t even understand it all to be honest and I’m glad I don’t.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s one of those things where what I’ve … There’s this careful balance I talk about intention ignorance and that being one of my mottoes for 2017, which is a little bit strange, but it’s the idea of empowering people that you trust to do a good job with the thing that you’re trusting them with and not feeling like you have to be the expert of everything. I think that’s a good example of saying, “Okay, I know in general what this is doing, why it’s important, but I’m not going to try and be the expert accountant with what I do.”
I’m curious to know for each of you, what does a typical day look like? I know that you, like we talked about before, you’re juggling a lot of things. You have your family, you’re involved with your church. You have the business that you’re doing and then you also have life outside of that. That’s important as well, so Polly can you talk a little bit about what a typical day would look like and how you structure that in doing your work?
Polly Conner: Yeah, so I have found it best for me, I work just two full days a week now. My work days are like Mondays and Wednesdays. Pretty much get up, do the kids’ scramble, get them off to school and then I start work around 8:30 and then blogging, it’s different every single day. Answer the emails, finish up a post, get the email started. Put out this fire on the tech side things. Finish up these photos. Pretty much just blog out until about 3:00, 3:30 until it’s time to start to pick up the kids. Then again with blogging, it doesn’t stop once you turn the hours off. It’s like, I need to do social media of this recipe I’m making, because that one’s on the blog. I try to be really strict about shutting the computer when I’m in mom mode, because you can just get sucked in. You’re just like, I just need to answer this comment. Oh wait, that’s wrong. I need to make this update.
I try to be really rigid about my work hours and then outside of that I do one evening a week where I work on our weekly email and then other than that, there’s recipe testing, there’s grabbing pictures of stuff as we make it, there’s social media, bringing people into our life a little bit and then of course, Rachel and I are constantly back and forth. We joke around, other than our husbands, we for sure text and call each other more than anybody else in the world. It’s just constant.
Bjork Ostrom: Is that the primary way that you communicate is via text and calls? Is it?
Polly Conner: Yeah, we really don’t get together unless our scheduled meetings or we have something we really need to hash out. Other than that, there’s just lots of texts, calls and emails.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. How about you Rachel, what does your typical day look like for you?
Rachel Tiemeyer: We sort of set up our weeks too, this is helpful, but we both work together on Wednesdays. I say together, we’re at separate locations, but we’re both on, on Wednesdays. All my kids now are in school, they’re all in elementary school, so I do have a good chunk of time during the day. We work together on Wednesdays, but then she works on Mondays and I work on Fridays on the blog. We both kind of set aside those days, but I also … Polly laughs at me. I’m not a good sitter, I can’t sit still most of the time, so I like to break up my work hours more and go do other things and go exercise. I also have another part-time job still at our church, so I have to do meetings there and things like that. I probably spread my hours out a little bit more, but my days are a lot like Polly’s.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting how you have to structure your day based on your personality. If you’re somebody that needs to get up and move every hour, you should probably do that, even if you have nine hours of work that you can do sitting down. I’ve tried to be more aware of that. Just yesterday, I was at my favorite place in the world, the local library and I realized, I’m at the point now … It was at the end of the day, it was like 5:45 or something were it’s like, the work that I’m doing isn’t productive. It’s like, okay I need to realize that and then say go home and do whatever it is. There’s plenty of stuff that I still need to do that I wouldn’t be at the computer, but I feel like I had drained my computer time, so I can understand that for sure.
Polly Conner: Yeah, I know that feeling. It does look a little different. Our days look a little different when we are in the process of testing recipes for our cookbook, because we both need to taste them. There’s a lot of evening back and forth. Taking pictures of the recipe and like, “This is a total bust, or oh my gosh, you’re gonna love this.” We double it, send one to the other family. They try it out. There’s a lot, especially when we’re cookbook testing. There’s so much back and forth in the evenings, because we’re just constantly trying recipes and even getting feedback from our kids and husbands. We’re sending pictures of that.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Don’t forget neighbors who test it too.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Polly Conner: We bring in the neighbors when we need a tie-breaker. If I hate it and Rachel loves it, or like we need a third party here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, one who’s gonna break this. Here’s how I’m gonna transition this. I want to talk to you about your cookbook, but before I do, I want to call out the actual book that it was that I was thinking of. It’s called Profit First and it’s not the guy that did Duck Tape Marketing book-
Polly Conner: Nothing to do with that guy.
Bjork Ostrom: No, what I was confusing it with is, he has this book called The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. I think somehow in my mind, it was both rolls of something, that’s where the connection happened. It’s a really good book. We’ll link to it in the show notes called Profit First and it kinda ties in to some of those things that we were talking about. That’s a book, I want to now, watch this transition, talk to you about your cookbook. What was that like to write a cookbook together?
Polly Conner: It was fun. First of all, we’re in awe of cookbook authors who do it by themselves. Oh my goodness, it is so much work. There’s so much recipe testing. There’s so much keeping track of details. There’s so much writing. I mean, there’s so much work that goes into a cookbook, and so we are just in awe of you cookbook authors out there who did it by yourself.
For us, it was a learning process for sure. We started with an idea of what recipes we thought would be in the cookbook, and then it looked completely different by the end. The way it works for us, was our cookbook is from freezer to table. All of our recipes are great fresh or frozen, but we needed to test them both ways. Practically, what that looked like is like okay, I’m going to test this, what’s a good example? Our blueberry avocado muffins. What I would do is I would double them. I would have it fresh. I would freeze a batch and then send that to Rachel. Our husbands actually work at the same place, so we’d send them with our husbands to work to exchange meals. They’re always hauling meals back and forth for us, which was great. Then she would get the frozen batch and then test thawing methods and taste them once they’d been frozen and thawed and give feedback for that. We kept track in Google Docs really detailed notes of how we cooked it, what they were, things we changed and all that. Anything to add to that Rach?
Rachel Tiemeyer: I think too, just going back to this idea of when you work with a partnership, one of the advantages is you both have different strengths. Polly is really good at being a project manager. She kept the thing going. We’ve talked about she’s the person who keeps the ball rolling. I’ve had more experience with writing recipes and that kind of thing, so I would say I was probably a little bit more like quality control on the recipes.
Polly Conner: Yeah.
Rachel Tiemeyer: We made a pretty good team. To me, it was super fun. I enjoyed every part of it. We’re now at the part where we’re marketing it, and we love that part. We actually just signed for a second book with them, so we’ll be starting this whole process over again.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the questions I was gonna ask was, if you were to do it again, which it sounds like you will be, will there be something that you do different that you learned your first time through?
Polly Conner: That’s a good question.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Polly, we had talked about maybe streamlining the recipe testing, or actually we’re gonna make it harder on ourselves this time, because we’re both gonna test each recipe, not just double it for the other person in our next one.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, so each test creating it, not just for taste, but also the process of making it?
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah. I think we’re gonna do that for the second one.
Polly Conner: We talked about, we were gonna get together soon and really have a recipe index pretty much figured out before we go into it and be a little more firm. I feel like the last time, we kind of were like, just get an inspiration from Pinterest and try that. It was just kind of random. This time I feel like we’re gonna have a bit more structure.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yep, and I think like anything, once you get into it you start to naturally form towards patterns. If you do it a second time, you’re like okay, what were some of the things that worked last time? What were some things that are a little loose that we can tighten up?
Polly Conner: Absolutely, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense. You were gonna say something Rachel?
Rachel Tiemeyer: The only other thing is I think we learned the value of, we ended up having a recipe testing team of about 300 people and we brought them in more on the hind end of the project, but I would like to involve those people earlier.
Polly Conner: Yeah.
Rachel Tiemeyer: They were super helpful and they were excited to try our recipes and provided a lot of great feedback.
Bjork Ostrom: How did you recruit them and then communicate with them?
Rachel Tiemeyer: We sent out an invitation. We have a pretty big, I mean in our world. I don’t know, not big compared to you guys, but a fairly sizeable email list. We invited people via our email list first and kind of gave them first dibs. Then we still had a little bit of room left and issued an invite on the blog itself. It filled up fast.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Polly Conner: Yeah, then we would send the recipe to them with our questions about it. We were like, “Hey, we just can’t figure out the baking time for the fish sticks or something.” Then they had a Google Doc, like a Google form that they would fill out and it’s basically an evaluation of each recipe that we would look at. We looked at every response that people would send in, and even as we were, towards the end of the book, we’re like, “What did our team say about this one again? We need to add that in there.” We made a lot of adjustments to recipes based on what they said. We’re really thankful for our recipe team.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that is an important take-away. Even if it’s not recipe related, just the idea of getting exposure to the thing that you’re working on from the audience that eventually will consume it, whether it’s recipes or an information product, or a physical product. I think that’s a really important valuable take-away.
Polly Conner: I will say that part of our strategy behind it too, was like, hey these are the people who are really invested in this cookbook who are probably gonna help us promote it. We now have a launch team, so I’m guessing there’s a lot of overlap between our recipe testing and our launch team, but we really wanted to get people on board with our vision and excited to share about it and think “Hey, I helped that recipe. I’m gonna buy this book and share it with my friends.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that there’s almost ownership of it in a sense that they were a part of the creation.
Polly Conner: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool, so getting to the end here. One of the questions that I love to ask people, is if you were to go back and have a conversation with yourself six years ago, what would the advice that you would give to yourself be in terms of looking forward, building this thing that you guys have built and what are the things that you would do differently, or maybe do the same? Rachel you can kick it off.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Wow, that’s a great question. In a lot of ways, I don’t know if I would do a whole lot differently. Maybe if Polly and I had … I just think a lot of things are just you have to have time to learn things about each other. I think overall I’m really just thankful for our friendship and our partnership and the things we’ve learned about each other. Like I said, over the years I feel like we’re learned more and more how to do really good swift conflict resolutions, so I guess if there’s that, that earlier on in a relationship, it’s always better. Overall, I feel like it’s just been sort of like we’re chugging away at it, plugging away at this blog and we continue to learn and it’s still a labor of love for us.
Bjork Ostrom: I think the important piece to pull out of that is you’re able to continue to chug along and move forward with it because you’ve been so intention about them micro adjustments of the conflict resolution along the way. That’s something we talk about all the time on this podcast, is this idea of the long term and one of the quickest way to burn out or to stop the movement forward, is to have a conflict that gets in the way so much as to keep you from moving forward, so I think it was a small thing, but I think that’s a really important piece, is to point out the fact that the conflict resolution has allowed you to do something for an extended period of time, which is the key on so many instances for successes, continually learning and creating that content and getting better along the way. I think that’s great. Anything you’d add Polly?
Polly Conner: Yeah, you know I’ve had time to think about it while you were talking. If I could go back and change some of the techie details that we started with, like the theme we used and the email service we used. I wish I could have started with what we use now, instead of fumbling through all these kind of mediocre programs.
Bjork Ostrom: Which one is that, just real quick? The places you landed that you feel good about?
Polly Conner: We switched to ConvertKit about a year ago and that’s been a game changer for us in targeting our email list and being able to actually know who’s on it and what they’re interested in and having certain sequences set up to go to the right people. We did just have one big email list before, and we didn’t know. We just sent that one big email each week and that was it, but now we have a little more targeted directions.
Then we use Leadpages now for our landing pages, which we again started last year. We now use Shopify. Programs that cost money that you have to make money first to get them, so you have to get there eventually, you can’t just start off using all these things. Now we’re like, it’s hard to transition in to those things once you’ve been switching email lists, like, “Oh my gosh, this is scary.” The techie side, I wish I could go back and tell myself what we’re gonna end up with, but there no way to do that. You have to learn.
I think, this is more like on the personal side, I think being a working mom, I really struggled with I really, really like working. For some reason I felt kinda bad about that. I was like, “Am I bad for wanting to work instead of being home all the time with my kids?” That was more of a personal thing. I finally have come to embrace that, “No, I’m someone who really likes to be industrious. It’s okay that I’m using my gifts in this way and it’s okay for me to really thrive outside the home as well.” Ironically, our blog is called Thriving Home. I do only work two full days a week, but I’ve really, because of that, I’ve really settled in my groove better than I did when I was at home 100%. That’s just more of a personal thing I think I would have told myself starting this. It’s like, it’s okay to really like this.
Bjork Ostrom: When you transitioned that thought pattern, or that idea, what was it that helped you do that? Was it a certain person that you follow that spoke into that? Or a mentor? Or was it you deconstructing that hurdle and saying, “Actually, I’m gonna lay this down and so I don’t have to keep jumping over it.”
Polly Conner: Yeah, it was actually a person. Just a woman in our church, Lynn, if she’s listening. I was just really struggling and I wasn’t getting sleep. It was when there was a newborn and I was just kind of at a low point, but I went and talked to her and it was like, “I just really have a hard time at home, but I feel bad wanting to go work on the blog. I feel bad.” She’s like, “Why are you feeling bad wanting to use your gifts? You’re good at this. What’s so bad about that?” Having her articulate realizing my thought pattern just was a little messed up, I’m like, “I don’t know.” To answer your question, it’s just a conversation with a wise friend honestly, that was a little bit of a turning point and kind of freed me up to feel okay with really liking working.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah and I would imagine number one, that a lot of people can relate and I would imagine also, one of the realities of liking work is that you are in a better place if you are able to invest in that in some way. I can imagine the benefit being that if you have that time to do that, the result then is you feel maybe more centered, or balanced, or whatever it is and the benefits being deep with that.
Polly Conner: Yeah, I think people who are created to be the go-getters and entrepreneurial type people just have to have an outlet for that. I think I just embraced, I’m this type of person and that’s okay.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, both you Polly and Rachel. Really appreciate your insights and sharing your story ups and downs. I know that there’s a lot of people, like we said, that come to us and ask about partnerships, so this will be a really fun episode to share with, and congrats on your success.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yeah, thank you so much.
Polly Conner: We’re appreciative of this.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure and last, before I forget, question would be your cookbook. You mentioned that.
Polly Conner: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Where can people find out about that? I think this podcast episode will come out maybe early September, which is around the release date, is that right?
Polly Conner: Perfect, yes.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Where can they find that and then also just in general, we’ll link to your blog, but where can they follow you guys online?
Rachel Tiemeyer: You can find it-
Polly Conner: Let’s see. If it comes out early September, our book hits book shelves September 12th at all major book sellers and online. If you want to pre-order it, you can do that now at fromfreezertotable.com. The name of the book again is From Freezer to Table.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. All right, we’ll link to that as well and be sure to pick up a copy. Congratulations you guys.
Polly Conner: All right, thanks.
Rachel Tiemeyer: Thanks Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks a lot. One more big thank you to Rachel and Polly for coming on today and sharing both the difficult things about a partnership and also the benefits of a partnership. If you are somebody that you feel like you have these skills and abilities, but maybe there’s a gap, there’s an area where you feel like there’s something that you’re not super skilled at, that would maybe be a time when you can think about bringing on somebody to partner with you in whatever capacity that would be. Maybe it’s somebody who truly is a partner in the business, or it’s somebody that you hire on that has some of those other skills that’s able to complement the things that you’re really good at and they’re able to backfill the things that you’re not as good at. That’s one of the most important things for building a business, is to not work in your weaknesses, to focus in on your strengths. What are the things that you’re really strong at and how can you implement those things? I’d encourage you to think about that this week as you process through this interview with Rachel and Polly.
Really appreciate you tuning and each and every week. It’s been fun for us to produce this podcast to put it out every week. It’s a labor of love for you the Food Blogger Pro podcast listeners and it’s so fun to hear from you, whether email or on Instagram, wherever it would be. Speaking of Instagram, you can follow along at Food Blogger Pro. We’ve been posting there a little bit more frequently as well as featuring different people that tag Food Blogger Pro in their Instagram posts, especially if it’s a recipe post. We like to re-share those, so you can check that out also along there. All right, I am officially signing off. Make it a great week.