274: Q&A – How Food Bloggers Can Make the Most Out of Q4

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An image of question marks and the title of the 274th episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Q&A.'

Welcome to episode 274 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, we’re re-sharing a Q&A we held for our Food Blogger Pro members where Bjork and Pinch of Yum’s General Manager, Jenna, answer questions about preparing for Q4.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Danielle Liss from Businessese and LISS Legal about the ways that bloggers can protect their content. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

How Food Bloggers Can Make the Most Out of Q4 

Q4 is made up of the last three months of the year (October, November, and December), and it’s a big deal for food bloggers.

Why? Because people are hungry for recipes! They want recipes for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the holidays. And when we’re not experiencing a pandemic, they want crowd-pleasing recipes and recipes they can make for their holiday parties and get-togethers.

Not only that, but advertising spend goes up during these three months. Sponsors are looking for bloggers and content creators who can create seasonal content, and display ad revenue goes up because traffic is up.

To help you prepare for Q4, today we’re sharing the Q&A we hosted with our Food Blogger Pro members last week! We have these live Q&As every single month for our Food Blogger Pro members. Sometimes we focus on a specific topic (like this one), and other times it’s an excuse to pick Bjork’s brain on any blogging topic under the sun. It’s so fun to connect, answer our members’ toughest questions, and have an hour to intentionally work on getting a tiny bit better.

We hope you enjoy this replay of our Q&A from October 2020!

A quote from Jenna Arend’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'You do a small amount of work for a pretty decent reward.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Jenna’s role looks like on the Pinch of Yum team
  • How the Pinch of Yum team is preparing for Q4
  • Tips for Q4 if your blog is new
  • How to maximize affiliate earnings in Q4
  • Alternatives to the Amazon affiliate program
  • How Q4 differs from Q1 and how to keep the momentum into the new year
  • How to choose whether to create a new recipe or republish existing content
  • What Pinch of Yum’s current email strategy looks like


If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Learn more about joining the Food Blogger Pro community at foodbloggerpro.com/membership

Transcript (click to expand):

Alexa Peduzzi: Hello, hello and welcome to this episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. My name is Alexa and we are so excited that you’re here today. We hope you’re doing well, we hope you’re staying safe and we hope you’re getting excited for quarter four content. There is a seamless transition if I’ve ever heard one. Quarter four is made up of the last three months of the year, so that is October, November, and December, and it’s what I like to call the super bowl for food bloggers. And why is that? Well, it’s because people are hungry, pun totally intended, for recipes. They want recipes for Halloween, for Thanksgiving, for the holidays. And when we’re not experiencing a pandemic, people want crowd-pleasing recipes and recipes that they can make for their holiday parties and get-togethers.

Alexa Peduzzi: These three months are extremely foodcentric and not only that, but advertising spend goes up. So sponsors are looking for bloggers and content creators who can create seasonal content and display ad revenue goes up because traffic is up. So quarter four is a big deal for food bloggers. And today we’re sharing the Q&A that we hosted with our members last week. We have these live Q&A’s every single month for our Food Blogger Pro members and they’re just the best. Sometimes we focus on a specific topic like this one and other times it’s just an excuse for our members to pick Bjork’s brain on any blogging topic under the sun. It’s so fun to connect in virtual person, I guess and answer our member’s toughest questions and just have an hour to intentionally work on getting a tiny bit better.

Alexa Peduzzi: Our content in quarter four Q&A was hosted by Bjork and Pinch of Yum general manager, Jenna. And you’ll learn a lot from this interview, from how Pinch of Yum is preparing for quarter four to how to go through quarter four as a brand new blogger to maximizing earnings in Q4 and so much more. It’s a really good one, so please enjoy this replay of our October, 2020 member live Q&A.

Bjork Ostrom: And we’re officially live. Hello, everybody.

Jenna Arend: Hi.

Bjork Ostrom: Excited to have Jenna here and excited to see some people chatting Ben, David obviously Alexa’s here, Elena from Denver. So excited to see people trickling in having a conversation about quarter four. Ben mentioned this in the chat as a fellow Midwestian really embracing and loving the fall weather. Lindsay just published a coffee date post on Pinch of Yum, talking about that. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. We’re going to be talking about quarter four and we’re lucky enough to have Jenna here. Jenna, do you want to talk a little bit about your role as general manager at Pinch of Yum and to the many different things that you do including kind of the focus on content that you have?

Jenna Arend: Yeah, for sure. Yep. So I do kind of a wide range of things at Pinch of Yum, but I do a lot within communications for us, so some social media, some email writing, kind of any communication between readers and brands. And then I also work on sponsored content, which is the brand side. And then for content, I do a lot to support Lindsay, so kind of helping to manage our editorial calendar and putting out or kind of creating the calender for republish content and just overall kind of helping to manage the Pinch of Yum team. So, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. In one of the things we’re gearing up for is quarter four, obviously a lot of things happening in the fourth quarter. For context, for those who aren’t as familiar, quarter four is really important because it’s kind of the peak everything for a food and recipe site. So it’s peak recipe creation. Aside from global pandemic when everybody’s at home making recipes, the usual peak is Thanksgiving, it’s the holidays where people are home and they’re thinking about what it looks like to make food together, but it’s also peak advertising spend. So whether it’s sponsored content or actual display ads, all of that stuff kind of culminates in quarter four. So that’s why it’s really important. That’s why we’re talking about that today.

Bjork Ostrom: I’d be interested just, this is actually a question that Alexa mentioned in the email that she sent out this morning, but I wanted to kind of use this as an onboarding question and I’ll throw this your way, Jenna. When you think of Pinch of Yum, the things that are happening for quarter four, it’s a little bit unique because also Lindsay’s going to be stepping back from maternity leave, you can talk about that as well, but are there any thing that are a part of the norm and the rhythm for Pinch of Yum as we head into quarter four, as we think strategically about what content looks like?

Jenna Arend: Yeah, for sure. I think there’s definitely some consistent things year to year. Obviously quarter four is the holidays, so you’ve got Thanksgiving and Christmas and the New Year. So there’s definitely some themes that emerge for us just in creating new content like this month and next month, lots of pumpkin recipes, lots of soup recipes. So that’s kind of a common thread. December is kind of funny because there’s not really holiday food necessarily, not like Thanksgiving where it’s like Turkey, the potatoes, all that. So that’s kind of, we follow a lot of what you would expect from some of the food themes. Another big piece is that our sponsor content usually ramps up in the holidays because a lot of brands are looking to use the rest of their budget for 2020. And so that’s another big thing for us.

Jenna Arend: We have a few different sponsored posts coming up and all of them related to the holidays and Thanksgiving. And then the last thing that we are doing a lot of this year is republishing some older posts. And so you’ll see that on Pinch of Yum that we’re kind of increasing that because it’s also, I mean, part of it is because of Lindsay on maternity leave and part of it is just that you might as well get some good juice out of Q4 because it’s a higher traffic month too and remind the readers of other good kind of holiday recipes that you have on your site so… And then there’s the also the other weird thing of throwing COVID in there and what do holidays look like for people this year and what are people wanting and looking for? And we’ve talked about this with our brands as well as we’re creating content this year so…

Bjork Ostrom: So republishing is something that we’ve been talking about on the podcast, a decent amount. We’ve been doing a decent amount for Pinch of Yum. Can you talk about the idea behind that and why sometimes it’s more strategic to try and improve a piece of content that’s like almost performing well but not quite versus creating a brand new piece of content and even where you can go to see some of that information?

Jenna Arend: Yeah. Yeah. So a large part of our kind of republishing strategy has been to look at our posts that rank in the top 10. So not necessarily even ones that are ranking 10 to 20 that are on the cusp of the first page. We’re really focusing in on that first page of search results because that is, you kind of get, I don’t love the phrase, bang for your buck, but kind of you can move up the most number of ranking positions. And so that’s kind of what we’re focusing on. And there’s a few reasons why it’s a good strategy and one is simply it’s efficient and it saves you some time and it also is kind of fun for readers to be reminded of older recipes especially if you shoot new images for it and it feels refreshed, that’s kind of fun.

Jenna Arend: But it also, I mean for SEO and for rankings, that’s a large part of why it’s a good strategy because it’s just… and we actually have a course on, Alexa just popped it in there. We have a course on this for Food Blogger Pro and that kind of talks through why it’s a good idea to do it and how we decide what to republish and then what changes we make to a post when we do republish it. And it just, we’ve seen such awesome results from doing it where most of the posts say they’re ranking number five, they might jump up to number two. And that seems like a really small thing but I mean, when I’m searching for recipes personally for myself, I’m usually clicking the top two because I trust that, that’s what Google is serving me because they’re the best recipes. And so it’s basically like you do a small amount of work usually for a pretty decent reward so…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Can you talk about Google Search Console so when you go in, you’re able to see some of that information? If somebody wanted to go in and look at that on their own, you don’t have to remember the exact path of how to get there.

Jenna Arend: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: It’s so hard when you’re just talking through it, but in general, what does that look like? And I think of when you do some of the reports that you do, you have a little screenshot that shows it was position five and then it went to two. Where is that in Google Search Console or just the general way that people could find that?

Jenna Arend: Yeah. Yep. So if you want a Google Search Console, I just pulled it out so I’m making sure I’m saying this correctly. On the left side, you’ll see a tab called search results and you can kind of create different queries based on that. And so, I mean, you can see your average position, you can toggle things on and off. If you toggle the average position on, then you can see the position for the search terms that are popping up. And if you wanted to, you can do if you do like a… there’s a query section, if you do a new query, you could type in, sweet potato casserole and you can see the information on the ranking and how many clicks it’s getting and how many impressions it’s getting.

Jenna Arend: And so the way that we’ve used it to look at what should we republish is just looking at the list of what the rankings are for our top contents and looking at that 3 to 10 ranking. So it kind of helps you dwindle that down to be able to see that. But yeah, it’s the search results tab for Google Search Console can give you just a ton of information so…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s really awesome. It’s like this sneak peek into the data that Google is collecting about your site. A lot of people don’t use it, but there’s so much great information there so… And worth noting that Alexa dropped in a couple of different links for courses are happening now, the course that Jenna did, so lots of followup information to hit there. All right, so for those who are tuning in, if you haven’t yet, we’d love to hear from you where you’re tuning in from. Jenna and I are both in Minnesota, but I know that one of the great things is not only for our team that we have here, but also for all of our members, we are spread out all around the world.

Bjork Ostrom: Some of you are winding down your day, some of you are starting your day, and that’s one of the great things about this community is how far reaching it is. So we’d love to hear from you as you start to come in and we will continue moving through these questions. Just a reminder, if you have any questions that you’re especially interested in us talking about, be sure to mention that by voting. That’s how you can make sure that we know which question you’re especially interested in us answering. And Molly is a tuning in here from Paris, Rosemary from Rome, Phoenix, Arizona, Lisa drinking a lemonc… How do you say that? Limoncello?

Jenna Arend: Limoncello, Limoncello.

Bjork Ostrom: Limoncello? I don’t know if I’ve had that flavor.

Jenna Arend: I think I’ve had…

Bjork Ostrom: I don’t really like pamplemousse, but I feel like I just like to say it so it’s worth drinking it just to be able to say it. This is my continued education in all things, ingredients and recipes. All right, Elena says, this is my first quarter four with my blog, what are some of the best tips to focus on when I’m just getting started? I have a few thoughts here, Elena and then if you had any Jenna, we would be interested to hear what you have to say too. I think when you’re in your first year, when you’re just getting started, especially, let’s say if you started three or four months ago, you’re probably not going to notice as extreme rhythms as you do with a site like Pinch of Yum.

Bjork Ostrom: If we go into Google Analytics right now, we can see a pretty clear ebb and flow on a weekly basis, we can see it on a quarterly basis and we can see it in on an annual basis. We know traffic will go up in January, we know that Sunday’s going to be a really popular day as people are recipe planning for the week. It’s just a natural flow that we have after doing it for 10 years. I think when you’re in the early stages, it’s going to be less common to have that really clear rhythm of traffic and therefore to not have as clear of a rhythm of what earning potential would be or anything like that. So I wouldn’t place too many expectations Elena on what your site should do in quarter four, especially in the first year and especially when you’re first getting started.

Bjork Ostrom: I would say, when you think of areas to focus on, I think it’s all of the stuff that Jenna just said. What are the things that people are thinking about? What are the needs that people have? And it might be different depending on who you’re talking to or who your audience is, but to spend time thinking about what is the most important thing for the people that you want to serve and the content that you want to create, as it relates to quarter four. Some people would be like cookies. I want to do cookies and I love the idea of having these baking get-togethers in whatever way that looks like and it’s socially distant safe way or maybe just baking cookies for neighbors. But maybe you have a site that’s refined sugar-free so then obviously you wouldn’t do that.

Bjork Ostrom: But it’s thinking about seasonally what are the things that would make sense for you to create content around. And to Jenna’s point, you might create something and revisit that every year, republish it, update it, continually improve it. So you don’t have to view it as, “Hey, I’m creating this for quarter four, 2020,” but you could create something and say, “Hey, I’m creating this as a pillar piece of content that I want to continually come back to.” So make sure you have that longterm mindset just in general, but also with each individual piece of content. Jenna, anything that you would add to this question just about areas of focus for quarter four for Elena, she’s just getting started?

Jenna Arend: I don’t think so. I think what you said about just kind of focusing on the seasonality and obviously with expectations of that there’s a lot of competition in Q4, I feel like in traffic of some of the highly search terms like sweet potato casserole or something like that. I don’t know if this is from an ebook or just from you and Lindsay talking about when you first started Pinch of Yum, but just creating high quality, consistent content, I feel like is the best goal and just kind of make what you love and make what you think readers want to see so…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things that we’ve talked about before is this idea of user controlled analytics. And this is great if you’re in your first year, if you’re in your first two years. We think about that if we’re ever starting something new. We know that we’re in that very beginning stage and some of the analytics like page views or revenue, they’re a little bit harder to get up and running when you’re at the beginning stages, but what are the things that you can control, you can control how many blog posts you’re doing or the time that you’re dedicating to get better at photography. So those things that you can control would also be good things to focus on so you don’t get too discouraged in the early stages. Because with content it takes a long time to build up that momentum and to build up page views and to build up a following.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. So we’ll jump up here to this question about affiliate earnings. How do I maximize affiliate earnings in quarter four from Manu. Great question. And it’s also a really good time to think about affiliate, especially as it relates to Amazon because people buy a lot of stuff in quarter four, they’re clicking on links, they’re shopping on Amazon. And as you know with Amazon links, if somebody clicks on your affiliate link for 24 hours there’s a cookie. So anything or most things that they buy you’ll get a percentage on that. The bummer is, Amazon’s recently changed their percentages. So while somebody can potentially check out and have a huge cart and everything is included in that from an affiliate perspective, the amount that you get is a pretty small percentage. So it’s becoming less and less effective for people to be Amazon affiliates.

Bjork Ostrom: And another thing that you see shifting is Amazon is really starting to encourage people to become almost like Amazon influencers, so creating their own pages and creating their own account and doing videos on Amazon and creating shops on Amazon. As they’re increasing resources around that, you see them decreasing the resources around affiliates for off site link. So you can earn commissions from being kind of an Amazon influencer on Amazon. They’re incentivizing that and they’re saying, “We’re going to pay you less if you’re doing this on your own site.” So they really want that content to live within Amazon you see that change happening.

Bjork Ostrom: But you can still earn an income from that, You can still earn revenue from that. Pinch of Yum does and Pinch of Yum has… when you look at the ad revenue from Pinch of Yum versus affiliate revenue, it’s maybe like 1,50th or 1,100th. And that’s not to say that it couldn’t be more or that’s true for everybody. There’s different niches where it looks a little bit different, but it’s probably not going to be the main thing unless you’re an affiliate site. Jenna, would you want to talk about ways that Pinch of Yum is including affiliate links and the different places where that shows up? We’re not super focused on that, but we do have that as part of the revenue source that we have. What are some of the ways that you can think of off the top of your head?

Jenna Arend: Yeah. This is kind of, not obsolete now, but we just don’t use it that much. But we do have a shop on Pinch of Yum that includes affiliate links and products that we love. But one of the major ways that we do it is in every recipe, we have an equipment section and so you’ll see in the recipe card, and this is built into Tasty Links and Tasty Recipes. And so every recipe card you can see, like here’s the Dutch oven that we use for this, here’s the wooden spoon, here’s the strainer. So you can see that equipment right there and that’s linked to Amazon as affiliate links.

Jenna Arend: And then specific to Q4 what we’ve done in the past and we’ve kind of thought about doing this year actually which is kind of in the works is doing a gift guide. That’s a really simple fun thing to do on the blog, is just kind of gathering like, here’s what I’m buying for family and friends this year, here are some of my favorite products and just creating a gift guide roundup that’s just kind of filled with affiliate links. So that’s one large kind of Q4, especially. And we have kind of explored or talked about exploring other affiliate programs too, outside of Amazon like you think about like the meal delivery kits that you can gain affiliate earnings from that. And especially thinking about right now, people are back at school, they don’t want to be cooking dinner and so there’s a lot of a unique outside of Amazon, I feel like affiliate opportunities to kind of maximize on this time of year whether it’s holiday related or back to school related so yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things that I think is important to remember with affiliate, you kind of hinted at this Jenna, is how important it is for if you are thinking about doing some type of affiliate that it’s really closely correlated to the thing that you’re talking about or the focus. So the best case, examples from an earning potential would be, like if you’re doing a review on different blenders and you have two different blenders, maybe it’s Blendtec and what’s the other one? Vitamix.

Jenna Arend: Vitamix, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’re kind of comparing to the most popular blenders and doing a side by side. That’s great because usually people who are searching for reviews have buyer intent so they’re thinking, “Hey, I’m either going to buy a Vitamix or a blender.” They’re probably searching things like, Blendtec versus Vitamix or best blender or things like that so they have kind of buyer intent. Or you have an equipment section helpful because if somebody is making a recipe, it kind of gives them an overview of here’s what you need. Here’s what we used when we made this, you might be able to use this as well.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think where it becomes less effective is actually, Pinch of Yum as an example and you kinda mentioned this too Jenna. We have the shop page and it’s there, it’s not a huge part of our strategy and probably something that you’ll see fade away as opposed to increase in terms of our focus on that. One of the main reasons being it’s not super helpful for people in the way that they’re not going to Pinch of Yum to look to shop but they might do that if they kind of like checking out in an aisle and you see like, “Actually I do need some gum.” If you’re looking at a recipe and you’re like, “Actually I do need a new spatula. And it looks like this is the one that they use,” that’s a little bit more closely correlated so…

Bjork Ostrom: Just a couple quick examples of that, Alexa dropped in some links so you can see what that looks like on Pinch of Yum. Tasty Links hooks up with Tasty Recipes, but it’s important to know the reason that those are two separate things is because Tasty Links also works outside of recipes. So you can create a little call-out card like that, you can create an area like that on any post. It doesn’t have to be connected to a recipe, but we wanted it to look really nice to be integrated in to the recipe card for those who do use Tasty Recipes and Tasty Links. So it’s kind of the quick backstory with that. And then Alexa also linked to happening now where we talk about some affiliate stuff. Thank you, Alexa. The ultimate in real time link sharing which is fun so thanks Alexa.

Jenna Arend: I was going to add just one more thing to that question. I was just thinking about the other… when you were talking about the blenders, reviewing blenders. One thing that we did last year that I felt like was a successful idea was… so obviously on the holidays, people are getting new kitchen tools like an Instant Pot or a Dutch oven or a blender and so on Pinch of Yum, we had a few posts that were primarily made for affiliates. So like 10 ways to use your Dutch oven or 16 magical ways to use your Instant Pot or our Instant Pot recipe roundup that you could create before the holidays. But then once people have those things in their hands, they’re searching, how do I use my Instant Pot or best Instant Pot recipes? That’s just another kind of idea to think about as, what are people searching for once they get these new kitchen tools and they don’t know what to do with them so…

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. For sure. If somebody is super excited about it, they get it, maybe somebody gifted it for them for Christmas and then they’re like, “I need some recipe ideas for a dutch oven,” and that being a really good type of content. You kind of talked about this a little bit, but Elena, had a follow up question here. So obviously we talk a lot about Amazon as being a place where you can sign up for affiliates, but there’s other places you can do that as well. One of the things that… so Elena’s question is, is there any other affiliates besides Amazon that you would highly recommend? So Elena, I think it really depends on your niche. A couple options, there’s affiliate networks like ShareAsale, Commission Junction, I think Pepperjam is one. We primarily use ShareAsale.

Bjork Ostrom: You could be an affiliate for Food Blogger Pro for WP Tasty. For Pinch of Yummy book, we have affiliate programs as the merchant for all of those, but if you’re thinking about as a publisher, you can go to these other networks and a lot of times they’ll pay a lot better because it’s not going through Amazon, they’re not having to pay Amazon a cut. Any others that you can think of that would be other options Jenna? Primarily for Pinch of Yum we’re doing Amazon, but any others that you can think of off the top of your head?

Jenna Arend: Yeah. We have used ShopStyle a few times. That’s outside of our niche for sure because it’s kind of more so like clothing products and other retail. But when we’ve done a capsule wardrobe or a gift guide that’s often the way that we’ve done it. I do believe Target also has an affiliate program that we’ve linked to before if it’s a Target exclusive product, but I think ShopStyle can take from multiple stores and allow you to do that. So that’s the other one that we’ve used too.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. And we haven’t actually done this before, but I’ve seen creators and publishers using the shopping apps, so either buying through Walmart or Instacart. We haven’t gotten into that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes more common to have the ability to add to cart directly from a recipe. And I know that there’s different ways that this exists and then getting a small commission on that. The hard thing with grocery is that the margins are already so small that it doesn’t offer a huge amount of income, but it’s highly correlated so… And I love the idea of, if you really want a recipe, you just add all the ingredients in your cart and then an hour later it shows up and then you can make it.

Jenna Arend: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. So this kind of ties in. Sylvia says, have you set up Amazon affiliates in other high traffic countries like UK and Canada? Do you think this is worth doing? So we have done that. Jenna, I’m trying to remember, there is something that came up with this that Daniel who’s the developer engineer that we work with had to make a change. Do you remember what that was or these programs?

Jenna Arend: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I can kind of circle around it. I don’t remember specifically what it was but…

Jenna Arend: Yeah. So Amazon has something I think it’s called, and maybe Alexa, you can find a link to this, but I think it’s called Amazon OneLink and it’s essentially something, it’s a piece of code that you put on your site and it’s a great release from them I think they created a few years ago. But basically if anyone comes from different countries, say there’s somebody in Canada and they click our Instant Pot affiliate link, it’ll just automatically direct them to the Canadian Amazon store instead of the U.S. one. So it just makes it easier for your readers and then you also still get commissions from those stories. So I think the thing we ran into was that they changed the link or something like that or they changed the-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that sound right.

Jenna Arend: … process for using it. So we are signed up for, I think, Canada, UK. We had some issues with I think with China and Japan just with, I forget what it was, but I think for sure Canada and UK and Mexico, I think too, but…

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And if I’m remembering right, what happened was, in order for your Amazon associates account, which is essentially just Amazon affiliate, in order for the Amazon associates account to stay active and open you have to have a certain amount of sales in a given period of time. And I think for the places where we had less traffic plus Amazon wasn’t as prevalent like Japan, then we didn’t have enough sales to justify or to meet the credentials that Amazon had to have an open account. So they sent us a letter saying, “Hey, we have to shut down your account because you don’t have enough sales.”

Bjork Ostrom: So if I’m remembering right, I think we went through and we signed up for all of them and then over time the accounts got shut down to the ones that we had enough traffic from Canada, UK, and had enough sales to keep them active. One small thing to note is, for both of these accounts, they sent us a physical check each time which I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do this Jenna, but for Canada, you go in and then they’re in Wells Fargo and there’s this thing about where’s the stamp. They always need the stamp and they never know…

Jenna Arend: And then you have to convert it to USD and…

Bjork Ostrom: Which is not a big deal, but it’s something that is a little bit more manual. So what we did is we increased the payout amount to like 500 or 1000. I think it’s default to maybe like 25 or 50 just so we continue to get that, but we’re not going in every month and going through that kind of rigmarole of converting that over. So I think it’s definitely worth doing. If you’re going to do it, use that program that Alexa dropped a link into that. Jenna mentioned OneLink. It’s a little snippet of code and that code connects to your account, which then directs people based on their IP address to the right landing spot. Great question. And I think it’s a relatively easy thing to get set up after you take a few days to get that taken care of.

Bjork Ostrom: David says, picking up on that comment about how to use Christmas gifts, other ideas for sustaining quarter four momentum into quarter one. So can you talk about kind of ways that we view quarter four differently than quarter one as it relates to content and kind of the strategy for Pinch of Yum?

Jenna Arend: Yeah, so it’s definitely, I mean, I feel like in a lot of food businesses, you see this sudden switch to the new year where it’s, healthy eating and whole 30 or something like that. And so that’s kind of typically, and I feel like if you looked in Google trends, you would see that difference from probably in December, it’s cookies and bars and pie and appetite. Yes, yes. And then it switches into January to be healthier. And so what we’ve done in the past, and this might look a little different this year is we do a sugar-free January challenge which is essentially just a month of recipes that are mostly refined sugar-free.

Jenna Arend: And so we’ve kind of focused in on a specific niche of that rather than just overall healthy eating. I think this year we might be focusing in on vegetarian and plant-based and so that’s really kind of carrying that momentum in, because January is also usually a pretty high traffic month for us because people are, they got Christmas gifts and they’re looking to figure out how to use them. I would guess that Instant Pot is like, it just jumps in January because people are like, “How do I use this thing?” And so I think shifting into what people are looking for in January, which is typically healthier eating. Beyond January, I mean, February and March are just weird months where it’s like Valentine’s day there’s not as many trends, but I think people are continuing to sustain some form of healthier eating so yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. I’ve talked to Kate from Simple Pin Media, one of the Food Blogger Pro experts we have. She’s been on the podcast a few times, has done some live Q&A’s like this and she talks about February 15th as kind of, on the Pinterest side of things which I would guess is a micro kind of online economy that reflects the more macro one of searches and just mindset. Kind of mid February is when the peak of healthy traffic type content falls off which is like six weeks. And then people are like, maybe it’s kind of wrapping up their healthy eating mindset. But I think your point too, anything that people had maybe gotten for gifts is a great idea like Instant Pot, whether it’s a blender, any food items that people might be starting to use a little bit more kind of the mindset of healthy eating, I think makes a lot of sense.

Bjork Ostrom: I think from a revenue perspective, David, one of the things that is just really important to remember is, depending on your niche, traffic might go up but the revenue’s going to go way down because suddenly these businesses, these brands, these companies are resetting their entire budget. And a lot of them, this was interesting for me to learn, I did a podcast interview with AdThrive and this was one of the things that they shared, which was so interesting was, they said a lot of people who manage an advertising budget, whether it be sponsored content or advertising are literally coming in the first week or second week of January after being off and starting to build their budget for the new year. So they’re not even spending anything because they’re like, we don’t even know what our budget is and what we want to spend it on. So they’re spending those first few days or potentially weeks even figuring out what they want to spend on.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s deflated especially compared to when there’s a spending frenzy in quarter four. So even if traffic might go up, your ad spend is going to go down and what you’ll notice is that’ll sustain for quarter one for the most part and maybe peaks a little bit towards the end. And that episode isn’t out yet, but it’s coming down the line so stay tuned for that. So I think that would be important from a momentum perspective to know that that revenue potential isn’t going to carry over, even though your traffic potential would be.

Bjork Ostrom: One final note with that as your traffic goes up, that’s going to be a great opportunity for you to start to think more strategically about how you can get people to sign up for your email list. If people are coming, if they’re going to be there, if you have more people, it’s a great time to connect with them and keep them around for a long time. It’s a huge project that Jenna has been working on with bringing Pinch of Yum over into ConvertKit and in thinking strategically about email and how we’re handling that could be something we could talk about here too as we talk about some of the ways that we’re thinking about email. But a couple of additional points David, to consider as you think through stuff. It’s a great question.

Bjork Ostrom: All right. So Sienna is saying, can you advise on how best did you a recipe roundup for those running Tastes Recipes, Tasty Pins, Tasty Links. Since I recently switched to blog editor, I don’t see a tasty roundup block. Alexa mentioned this. Drop a note to the support team at WP Tasty. It’s something that we have been experimenting with early stages with Pinch of Yum, is this idea of doing a roundup that is structured in a way where it’s correct structured data so Google understands that as a roundup. You’re just working on this Jenna what’s the official…

Jenna Arend: It’s called a listicle blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Listicle. Yeah, listicle blog.

Jenna Arend: Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: So that would be really important for the WP Tasty team to know that, that’s something that you’re interested in so we can fold that in so we can have it as a part of the roadmap. I’m not as close to the roadmap, Katie who’s general manager at WP Tasty kind of lives and breathes that roadmap. So it’d be good for her to know if you’re interested in that and she can maybe even inform you at a high level or somebody on the WP Tasty team what that might look like. So it’s a great question and love to hear any type of feedback that you have for anybody who is using WP Tasty. So thanks for writing in about that. I really appreciate it.

Bjork Ostrom: All right. We are going to rock and roll on a few different more here, and then I’m going to add in that question about email, just so you can get some time to talk through that. Molly says, how do you weigh the bang for your buck in terms of creating a new recipe versus republishing, an old one, versus just continuing to market the heck out of one on social media? So can you talk through that decision-making process, Jenna? It’s not a perfect formula, but just at a high level, what does that look like for Pinch of Yum?

Jenna Arend: Yeah, for sure. As far as new recipes versus republished ones, there is a fine balance just keeping your audience in mind and your readers in mind of, we don’t want to be just republishing recipes constantly. So we typically aim for about two per month. And you’ll see that increase over the next few months while Lindsay is out, but typically it’s out of our, let’s see, maybe eight or nine recipes we do per month, two of them are maybe republished or maybe even just one of them. So we do kind of keep that balance in mind of we want to deliver new recipes and new content and so there’s kind of that balance with that.

Jenna Arend: Obviously for new recipes typically there’s a lot more work that goes into that. It’s developing the recipe, photographing the recipe, writing the post, creating new Instagram stories, creating a video. There’s a lot of content that doesn’t exist that needs to be created, whereas for republished content, sometimes you have to shoot new photos sometimes not, there’s some tweaks to the copy that you make, maybe you would make sure the SEO is all zipped up, you create a new pin maybe. You’re kind of updating things that already exist.

Jenna Arend: So that’s kind of the beautiful thing about it is that… but then also going to just the traction you can get from doing it, it’s already, especially if it already ranks in the top 10, you’re already a step ahead of the game rather than creating something new that now is in the competition for something. If you have something already that’s ranking pretty well, then just kind of keep bumping it up for the top. I do think you gain a lot more from that rather than marketing the heck out of it on social media because you can also still do that.

Jenna Arend: Whenever we republish a post, we’re still sometimes creating new Instagram stories or resharing the video and putting it on Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and so we just find that we… I mean, that’s such a large source of revenue too is traffic. And so if we can just gain a little bit more of that search volume from people by being in the top two or three, then that gains a lot for us rather than say, like 50,000 people watching a video on Instagram and maybe not even clicking over to look at it, they’re just watching it. We can be a lot more confident in the return with republishing a post rather than just doing a large social media campaign so…

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. And I think that’s the art part of the art and science of content creation is like, even though numbers wise it might be smarter to just keep the content we have and consistently republish it and try and increase rank and get higher and get more traffic for the existing content then you kind of lose the passion and interest of people who are truly following, like I want to see a new recipe, I want to hear from you again, what is the thing you’re thinking about now? And it becomes just numbers and so there’s that balance with that? The other thing that I would also throw out is one of the considerations that we have that we’re in the middle of right now is, if we see something that’s been doing really well start to slip, and we’ve seen that with a popular post that we have for chocolate chip cookies, we’ve seen that start to go down and we’re like, “Hey, let’s take a look at this. Let’s try and breathe some life into this, refresh it, move it to the front of the blog, promote it.”

Bjork Ostrom: And one of the things that we’re starting to learn about is the importance of not letting content kind of turn into wispy mist and float off into the distance of your site. And that happens if you don’t have really good category pages and you don’t have a place for Googlebot, which comes and crawls your site to easily discover that content. So sometimes one of the reasons why it’s helpful to republish is because that piece of content that’s kind of faded off into the distance, it doesn’t have anywhere on your site where it’s really prominent, where it’s displayed, where there’s links to it, it kind of is faded off suddenly you’re shining a light on it again. It’s on the front of your site, maybe you move it up so it’s on a really prominently placed on a category page, you include some additional links to it in other places. That kind of revitalizes that content from a link perspective, internal linking, but also just from a prominence perspective. So when Googlebot comes to your homepage, it’s going to see that right away as one of the first places that it goes and it crawls.

Bjork Ostrom: So another important consideration when it comes to updating old content in one of the factors that exist in it, that doesn’t exist if you’re just promoting it on social. So that’s kind of the gap between those two things that I think is important to point out as well. Great question, Molly, really, really appreciate that and appreciate you tuning in from Paris, France. Coolest location ever to watch a live Q&A, next to somebody else who is at the pool in Hollywood beach, Florida. That’s like-

Jenna Arend: It sounds pretty nice.

Bjork Ostrom: That sounds pretty nice. So I’ll throw this one your way and then I have one more question that I’m going to add that would be good to talk through. Zoe is saying, have you guys heard of Whisk? So it’s a recipe app that offers what it seems opportunities for creators to link their recipes, if so, what are your thoughts? Do you know, Whisk Jenna?

Jenna Arend: I’ve not heard of it.

Bjork Ostrom: Well, I’d be interested to hear. It looks like it’s whisk.com. When I pull this up, it looks familiar. I think I’ve maybe checked out the page before. Zoe, I don’t really know a lot about it. It’d be interested to explore it a little bit and dig into it. I’m an advisor for Prepear which I don’t think is… I haven’t looked at Whisk and so I don’t know if it’s the same. Prepear is a great app where it allows you to bring your recipes in and create some kind of productized versions of the recipes.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s a way almost to syndicate your content as another revenue source. So that would be something that I would throw out as something to look into. It’s Prepear and then pear like the fruit, as opposed to prepare as you would spell it, if you’re preparing something. So throw that out as well. I’m always interested in ways of wisely syndicating your content, so you don’t want to just give it away. And Prepear, they are food people, they are food bloggers, they have super healthy kids and so they understand that and are being really careful about how they have that conversation with bloggers so another one that I would throw out there.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m going to actually going to add a question and Jenna, I’ll throw this your way. I referenced it before, but just curious to hear a little bit about the email process that Pinch of Yum has gone through. It kind of ties into quarter four, but in general, it’s just a strategy that we’re working on. So I’m going to formulate the question, what is Pinch of Yum’s current email strategy as kind of a general overarching question and then I will click to have you start answering it and throw that your way.

Jenna Arend: Perfect. So for some background, we just recently made a switch in email providers, which also kind of instigated a refresh on our strategy. And so what we were doing before was pretty stagnant. So our main strategy was, if you go to Pinch of Yum, you’ll see a banner at the top that says, “Click here to download our top 25 recipes.” And so you if you clicked it and you put in your, sorry, not click to, you put in your email, and then you receive it via email and you would get three supportive emails that are like, here’s our favorite snacks which is great. It was a great way to start.

Jenna Arend: But what we’ve done now is switching to ConvertKit and we work with Allea who I think has a Food Blogger Pro expert maybe, but she’s just wonderful. She’s so great. And so she has been a huge help in kind of revamping that. And so we made that switch to ConvertKit and with that, we created just so much more robust email sequence. So when someone is signing up on Pinch of Yum, they aren’t just getting an ebook, they’re getting an entire series of emails talking about our most popular recipes, our favorite recipes, our favorite tools in the kitchen, our favorite meal prep, tools or recipes that we use. It’s just kind of taking the best of Pinch of Yum and putting it into an email series.

Jenna Arend: So it welcomes them to Pinch of Yum and kind of introduces us and then leads them into another sequence that is, it’s called a nurture sequence. So it’s kind of nurturing them and giving them content that they’re looking for and then even creating a preference sequence where if they’re new to cooking, they get another set of emails to kind of introduce them to cooking and give them some tips and tricks.

Jenna Arend: So it’s just a lot more robust. So that’s kind of our main strategy is kind of funneling people in through that so they can receive our recipes whenever they republish and get that. But we are focusing now more on kind of niche sequences. And so one of them, for example, last year with our first year doing this for sugar-free January, it wasn’t our first year doing sugar-free January, but we changed the signup to be email-based.

Jenna Arend: So it used to be, you click a link and you automatically get everything you need, but now when you click the link, you put in your email and you receive the sugar-free January materials and then you get an email sequence that’s like, “Who’s your sugar-free buddy? Who are you going to do this with for this to whatever friend you want to do the challenge with.” And then also just some meal prep tools and just kind of giving just more meat to it, rather than just downloading a file. And that also is just kind of continuing to funnel people into Pinch of Yum content and receiving our recipes and getting what they need from us. So that’s kind of our big strategy now is just offering more via email to our readers so…

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s a great way. I use the analogy to like music or bands or songwriters a lot, but as you build your content catalog you have some kind of hit songs that come up your really popular blog posts. And before we would just hope that people would stumble across those by searching or Pinterest, but now kind of like a Spotify playlist, if you pull it up and you look, and it’s the top five songs. If I ever see a new artist, I’m always going straight to those songs. For Pinch of Yum, we’re thinking about how can we have kind of a version of that? How do we get people as quickly as possible to the best content? And one of the ways you can do that is through email and you and Allea have done such a great job building that out.

Bjork Ostrom: So if you want to, for those watching kind of experiment see what that’s like, seeing how we’re doing that you can sign up and go until you get enough value and then you can unsubscribe or just stay subscribed forever. But I thought it’d be good to update on that. And then also to mention, Alexa, said this as well, but Allea is actually going to be on the Q&A next month to talk about email sequences, nurture sequences and to go through that so… Jenna, is there anything else on your end that you’d want to talk through or any encouragements you’d give to people as they head into quarter four? And then I know that you’re occasionally jumping into the forums as well, so people could connect with you there.

Jenna Arend: Yeah. I think the last thing I would just say is one of our goals at Pinch of Yum is to kind of help solve people’s problems. That sounds really simple, but what do readers need right now and how can we solve that for them as far as food and cooking goes. And so I would just be mindful of that for your own readers especially, there will never be a Q4 like this, where nobody knows if they’ll be gathering in a big group for Thanksgiving or for example, one of our posts in November, we’re working with a brand and creating a small sheet pan Thanksgiving recipe, because some people might be spending it at home with just their immediate family or just them or just them and their partner or… You never know kind of what people are walking through in this season.

Jenna Arend: And so I think just being mindful of that and creating just content that is practical for them, but also kind of fun because I feel like this could be a hard season for a lot of people. And so the cool thing about working in food is that’s a huge part of joy for this time of year is that. And so I think beyond just rankings and SEO, just thinking about what do people need right now and what’s practical for them and what could kind of make them happy in these weird times of Q4 COVID times so…

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. I think it’s one of the great things that exist for us as creators, as publishers, as people who are putting things into the world is we are able to put good things into the world and not like good things, quality content, but things that help people and make their lives better. Even if it’s one person, even if it’s a small thing, it’s a gift to be able to do that. And even if you’re early on, even if you’re in the beginning stages, there are still people who are coming to your site, whether it’s family, friends, people who are connected to you. It’s one of the great sources of income. It’s not monetary income, but it’s relational income, it’s emotional income, it’s impact income and all of those things we should be aware of those and it’s hard to quantify, but they exist for sure and I love that you brought that up.

Bjork Ostrom: I would be interested to hear as we wrap up for those who are turning in live, as a sign-off, what was one thing that you had as kind of a takeaway, something that you learned, maybe it was a new perspective, maybe it was a new idea that you had, maybe it was an inspiration, anything that you took away or that you’re excited to think about moving forward here would be interested to hear from anybody who’s tuning in live. I know for me, it’s this constant reminder of the gift that we have as creators and having a voice and connecting with people kind of to your last point there Jenna.

Bjork Ostrom: Just a quick reminder, Alexa had mentioned this, but we have another one of these coming up in, that’ll be November, we’ll be talking about email sequences and welcome sequences and how those work, we can talk about what that looks like for Pinch of Yum as well. So we would be excited to share that and talk through that. As always, if you have additional questions, please jump into the forum let us know we’re here to help that’s why we exist in this world is to help creators like this group of people get a little bit better every day and that’s why Food Blogger Pro is here. Anything else on your end, Jenna, that you want to touch base on or-

Jenna Arend: I don’t think so.

Bjork Ostrom: Thank so much for coming on.

Jenna Arend: Thanks for having me and if anyone has any additional questions, I’m also on the forum and Alexa and Leslie can ping me that one of you has a question so…

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Cool. Thanks for coming on Jenna. Really appreciate it. And thanks everybody for tuning in we will catch you around. See you.

Alexa Peduzzi: And that’s a wrap. Thanks again for tuning into this episode of the podcast this week, we hope you enjoyed this different kind of format. Like I mentioned in the intro, these Q&A’s are typically reserved for our members. We have one every single month and they’re so much fun. Every live Q&A that we’ve ever had is actually available for replay on our site too. So as a member, you can check out all of our Q&A’s with Bjork, the team and our Food Blogger Pro experts like SEO expert, Casey Markee and WordPress site speed expert, Andrew Wilder. If you’re interested in learning more about what it means to be a Food Blogger Pro member and how you can get signed up and get access to all of our courses, our deals, our forums, and our past live Q&A’s, you can head on over to foodbloggerpro.com/membership. Alrighty friend, thanks again for tuning in, we’ll see you next time and until then make it a great week.

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