Welcome to episode 438 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Remy Park.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Marta Rivera Diaz. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Balancing Lifestyle and Recipe Content
Remy’s journey to food blogging started as a means of overcoming her history of disordered eating and addiction by sharing a diary-like view into her favorite recipes and lifestyle. Many years later, her blog, Veggiekins, is now her full-time job.
Remy is a pro at balancing sharing lifestyle and recipe content on her various social media platforms and blog, and she explains more about her strategy for repurposing content in this interview. She also shares how she filters what she shares with her followers and how she handles negativity online.
Last but not least, Remy gives her advice for creating a uniform brand aesthetic in her photographs and on her site. It’s a wide-reaching and inspiring interview — grab your headphones!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Remy’s journey to veganism and how it changed her life and provided a purpose for her blog.
- What her day-to-day workflow looks like, and how she approaches outsourcing her work.
- How she thinks about documenting her life and sharing lifestyle content on social media.
- How she balances creating and repurposing content for multiple platforms.
- Why she prioritizes brand partnerships and how she maintains relationships with brands.
- How she creates an aesthetic and consistent visual look for her brand.
- How she deals with negativity on social media.
- More about the process of writing her cookbook.
- 384: How Toni Okamoto Runs Two Food Blogs and Grew Her Email List to Over 80,000 Subscribers
- Sesame, Soy, Spice Pre-order
- Follow Remy on Instagram and YouTube
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
Thank you to our sponsors!
Thanks to Raptive for sponsoring this episode!
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Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could figure out how you can optimize the existing posts on your blog without needing to comb through each and every post one by one? With Clariti, you can discover optimization opportunities with just a few clicks. Thanks to Clariti’s robust filtering options, you can figure out which posts have broken links, missing alt text, broken images, no internal links and other insights so you can confidently take action to make your blog posts even better.
We know that food blogging is a competitive industry, so anything you can do to level up your content can really give you an edge. By fixing content issues and filling content gaps, you’re making your good content even better. And that’s why we created Clariti. It’s a way for bloggers and website owners to feel confident in the quality of their content. Listeners to the Food Blogger Pro podcast get 50% off of their first month of Clariti after signing up. To sign up, simply go to clariti.com/food. That’s Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I dot com slash food. Thanks again to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Emily Walker: Hey, there. This is Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team, and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. This week on the podcast, Bjork is interviewing Remy Park from the blog, Veggiekins. Remy’s journey to food blogging started as a means of overcoming her complicated history of disordered eating and addiction by sharing a diary like view into her favorite recipes and her vegan lifestyle. Many years later, her blog is now her full-time job and she has over 200,000 followers on Instagram and 172,000 followers on YouTube.
Remy has a sizable presence on several different social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. And she’s a real pro at balancing sharing content on all of these different platforms as well as her blog. She explains more about how she chooses what to share on each platform, as well as how she repurposes content in this interview. She also shares more about what it’s like to share lifestyle content or sometimes personal content on her platforms and how she deals with the negativity that sometimes comes from sharing personal things in an online space.
We also have a few listener questions in this interview about how Remy maintains a really cohesive and beautiful brand aesthetic across all of her platforms. It’s a wide-reaching interview. I really enjoyed listening to it and I know you will as well, so I’ll just let Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Remy, welcome to the podcast.
Remy Park: Thanks for having me. It feels very surreal as a listener of many years.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. It’s the fun thing at this point. We’ve been doing it long enough where if you do have somebody who listens, they know the vibe of the podcast and have some idea of what it looks like going into it. So, it’s always fun to connect with people, number one, who are familiar with it. But number two, one of the great privileges that we have is talking to creators who are comfortable talking to a camera, being in front of a camera, having those conversations.
And you are that because you do that. You’ve built a following on TikTok, on Instagram, on YouTube. We’re going to talk about that. And if I’m remembering your story, that was around 2017 that you started, is that right?
Remy Park: Yes, it’s been a long time. I always joke with some of my friends these days, especially TikTok creators, that I feel like the older generation of social media. I’m like…
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, which is crazy. Yeah. But it feels like TikTok, there was kind of this 2020, 2021, 2022 where it was kind of pandemic related. A lot of creators were at home and a lot of people caught a wave at that point. But for people like yourself who had been doing it before that, it’s like, “Hey, we’ve been here for a while. We were doing this before everybody else was.”
But before that part of your story and an important part of your story is finding eating vegan as a transformational part of your life story. And this is apart from business. This is apart from being a creator. But I would be interested to hear that story because I think that’s really powerful and it sounds like you experienced even as far back as elementary school, middle school, high school, some really turbulent seasons.
And one of the things that it sounds like helped in that transition is finding veganism and eating vegan. So, can you talk through that and how really it sounds like your life was transformed in a lot of ways?
Remy Park: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s interesting because ever since I was young, I was a very picky eater. I didn’t love food the way I feel like the rest of my family did. So, I was about seven and my family moved overseas for the first time. We moved from New Jersey to Taiwan, and my family is part Taiwanese, but we were very much a super American family, so it was foreign to me. The food that was there was so different, not really as much emphasis on snacks anymore like it was in the US. I was eating Pop Tarts and Fruit Gushers.
And then you go over there and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, people don’t even snack here.” And I’ve been the same height I have been since I was 12. I’ve always been a taller girl, and I think moving over there, you see a big difference in just the way that people interact with food and the culture I guess, around speaking about your body and food.
And I think that along with just a huge lifestyle change for me was kind of what started maybe my issues with eating. I was very conscious of my weight and my body, which is kind of a crazy thing to be thinking about when you’re seven years old, but part of Asian culture I think in a lot of countries is just to be very frank and blunt about speaking about your body. It’s always some commentary about food or making statements like, “Oh, you’re looking like you gained some weight, you lost some weight.” It’s just always part of the conversation.
So, yeah, I was hyperconscious and that kind of started around age seven. And it wasn’t until a couple moves later and I got into college and I started cooking for myself that I was able to overcome that. And I think what was probably the most impactful for me was finding veganism because even though it’s more than just about food, I think it gave me purpose and almost an appreciation for and an interest in food because if I wanted to eat mac and cheese, I had to make it myself and spend time with food.
So, in a sense, it was almost like exposure therapy, just getting familiar with food again, going to the farmer’s market, having some connection to it other than just calories in and out, things like that. And I felt really great about eating because I felt like sharing vegan recipes, I was almost doing something positive for the environment for the animals. So, it was a complete shift for me and definitely helped me a lot in that sense.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like we see this occasionally, but people who have a personal connection, it’s part of your story and you’re able to tell that story, which is really powerful. But then in telling that story, there’s almost like some evangelism around your transformation and wanting that to be impactful for other people. You have this story, it was impactful for you, life changing in a lot of ways, and that creates, and you can tell me if this feels accurate, that creates a purpose beyond just, “Hey, I want to build a following online because I’ve heard it’s a way that you can build a business.”
But it’s true, and you also have this really clear purpose behind it, which feels like that helps so much, especially in the early stages when it’s such a grind. Did you find that to be true?
Remy Park: Definitely. I actually started, it was originally supposed to be just an Instagram account that I used with my counselor in college, and it was food accountability, so it wasn’t supposed to be public, and I was almost using it like a diary, which I think is why I’ve become so comfortable with having this lifestyle element and a personal touch. I know some food bloggers kind of keep it separate and it’s purely about food, but it ended up becoming a resource I feel like for other people who were also healing from eating disorders.
And you’re totally right because I think at that time, I was getting what, four likes on my post. It wasn’t meant to be for everyone in particular. But at the same time, I felt like overcoming something that a lot of people can relate to, it felt like it was doing some good to kind of put something out there and at least have people feel like they’re not alone or that their experience isn’t … It’s not just them going through it.
And I think you’re absolutely right about that because it is such a grind. And I know that nowadays, I feel like there are some people who can approach it from a purely business standpoint and make it work. But I think what gets you through the days where nobody’s interacting with your content or feel like you’re not meeting the goals that you’re setting for yourself. If you don’t have that purpose, it’s really hard to keep going. And it’s either the purpose or just the love of it, people who just love to create.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally. And the best if you have all three of those, or at least two of those, if you love to create and you love the business component of it and you start to get some traction there, or if you love to create and you have a really strong purpose behind it. But when those three align, you have purpose, you love to create and it becomes a business, that is your job and can sustain you in some way, and you start to get some of that feedback loop like, “Oh, I got a brand partnership or I’m seeing growth here,” that can become really motivating.
There’s obviously difficult parts of that too because every time you grow or you get a viral piece of content, it sets this new kind of mark that you then have as an internal place that you want to hit and you might not be able to hit that. And so, there’s all of that. But those three pieces I feel like are such important parts of the puzzle. My guess is you’re somebody who also likes to create. Has that always been true for you?
Remy Park: Yeah, I remember when it was Facebook days, I’d be one of the only people in my friend group just constantly posting photos. And the same is true now. Sometimes I just kind of want to put out content and I’ll get very impatient when I have pre-filmed content and I’m like, “This is good for two weeks,” and I’ll just end up putting it out every single day. And I’m like, “I really shouldn’t be doing that.” So, I think I lean more on the purpose and love of it side.
I think the business side is there. I think I’m a very type A personality, but something about thinking about it from a numbers perspective or using SEO to decide what recipes I’m going to work on, it just feels counterintuitive sometimes. And I end up being like, “I know I should really be doing a cornbread, but I just want to do this matcha latte today.”
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. And that’s one of the interesting struggles that we have as creators is finding where we land on that spectrum, because there are some people who are so numbers driven and that’s what they love. They love the creation process of systems and research, and that’s great. Lindsay’s very similar where it’s the search side of things is kind of soul sucking for her and is also very much so creator driven where she has a private Instagram account with 60 friends and family. And will often at the end of the day spend an hour posting a video or editing a video or creating captions for that. And it’s just naturally what she does.
And so, I think for people listening, it’s good to reflect and have some self-awareness around where do you find yourself naturally going and trying to find opportunities to open up doors to allow you to do more of that. Because there’s always going to be other people doing it differently and having success with that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the direction to go. So, when you think of your day to day, what do you spend most of your day doing? What does it look like for you on a day-to-day or a week-to-week basis?
Remy Park: So, right now, I think the bulk of my time is filming and some editing. I’ve been able to hand off some of my editing. But I think that I feel very attached sometimes to the video because I feel like it feels very personal sometimes. So, I have a harder time letting go of the editing. And I have experimented a little bit with having people edit for reels and TikTok. But I also think there’s sort of this difficulty with especially TikTok, where you have to move quickly and also sometimes you just need to have … It’s hard to communicate the vision, I think, to someone else.
And I’ve found that in the past, I’ve tried and we’ll end up kind of going back and forth a few times. But one thing about me is I’m really terrible with email and that kind of thing. So, after the second email, I’m kind of like, “I’m not feeling this content anymore.” So, that’s something that I struggle with still, haven’t been able to hand it off yet, but I’m happy.
For YouTube, I have someone that helps me a little bit. Pinterest, I’ve handed off, so we’re solely getting there. But I think it’s true what you said that there are so many different ways to go about it. And it’s always funny when you listen to podcasts like yours or you ask your friends for advice and everyone’s saying different things. Some people can get away with just putting out whatever they feel like in the moment.
But I think what’s been helpful for me is just trying to look for things that I really dislike doing or things that I feel this hesitancy towards and trying to find people who can do it better than I can. And then just seeing myself as more of the creative. But the control element is hard to let go of.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s holding onto the things that are most interesting to you and most important for you to be doing as long as possible and then finding those things that you don’t like doing but are still important to do that you can pass off to other people, which is a smart way to approach it.
So, one of the things that’s really great about what you’ve built is you’ve kind of load balanced across the different platforms. So, you talked about Instagram as being the place where you started. And with that as a real quick aside, I think one of the things that you had mentioned that’s worth double clicking on is that you started out almost using it as a platform where you’re documenting. And I’ve heard this phrase before when people talk about building a following or creating content, and it’s the idea of documenting over creating.
And you’re still creating, but that as a different approach to how you’re handling your work. Essentially what you’re doing is you’re continuing with things that you maybe normally would be doing, but you’re documenting that process as opposed to, “How do I go in and create?” Does that resonate with you at all, or do you feel like it actually is just strictly creating?
Remy Park: Yeah, I do think there’s a way to almost live creatively, but I think for a lot of people, it feels like effort. One of my friends was interested in getting into content creation. But I think the biggest block for her was feeling like she didn’t even know what to take photos of or how do you take 10 things or 10 photos to put on your stories that day? I just don’t understand where all this comes from.
I think part of it is just kind of like you said, documenting, but also it’s maybe a little bit of curation. It’s like, “Let me move our cups together and I’ll take a photo,” but seeing the moment and then just taking tons of photos and videos, I have so much iCloud storage that I’m running through. But the thing is you need to have an overload I think of just footage and photos and then seeing how you can turn it into something that you find visually pleasing or worth putting out there.
The funny thing is, too, that I think people are so interested in a lot more than we realize. Everyone is inherently a little bit nosy, so I’ll tell even some of my friends that are creators, I’m like, “You know you could totally share just your outfit of the day and people would eat it up even though you’re not in your recipe.” I think everyone feels that human connection element.
So, for some people like Toni, I know she was on the podcast. For her, it’s like she can almost keep it very separate and there’s a benefit to that, too. But at the end of the day, I think we’re all human, so we respond very well to almost connecting with a personality or whatever someone gives us about their day.
But yeah, absolutely. I think documenting resonates with me a lot. I like to have an excess and then just work with it later. It’s always better than having not enough.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Ed Sheeran has this quote where he talks about getting all the bad songs out. And I think as creators, we need to do that as well. You just need to create a lot in order to see what’s good and what’s not good. And when you are first starting, you’ll probably have a lot of not good as you figure out what is good and you’ll be able to, even if you’re creating with the same amount, what you’re creating is going to be better over time.
But what it takes is, in the Ed Shean example, it’s writing thousands of songs and one or two of those are going to be awesome. And then over time now, he can write hundreds or thousands of songs and more of them are going to be better, 50%, whatever it is. It feels like the same thing applies in the world of creating where you get better the more you do it. And so, part of it is just doing it a lot, which is not an easy thing, but it’s easier if you love the process. And it sounds like that’s an important piece of it for you.
So, to get back to the original thought, so you’ve kind of load balanced across these platforms, over 200,000 followers on Instagram, 260,000 followers on TikTok, 170,000 followers on YouTube. It’s incredible. And what’s incredible about it is a lot of times, you’ll see one person really focusing on a platform and then the others are kind of an afterthought. How do you view being present on multiple platforms and are you adjusting or changing the way that you create content for each of the platforms, or is it pretty similar if you create one reel? Does it look the same across all of them?
Remy Park: I think that each platform is very different. I think like you said, some people can approach one and really focus on that and they’ll get the trickle down on other platforms, but there’s not as much thought maybe on the other platforms as far as content goes. And I used to film content specifically for YouTube, like a recipe video kind of horizontal. And then I would try to cut it into reels and think about it that way.
But I think what I’ve come to learn is that you learn more about the platform you’re trying to grow on by being a consumer of it. And I know a lot of us, myself included, to just post and then log off because we spend so much time on these apps. But that’s how I really came to understand TikTok. And I’ve been an Instagram girl. That was my first and foremost favorite.
But YouTube is kind of what ended up taking off for me the most at one point because I started this series and I understood that people wanted longer content and a reason to come back to YouTube. They want more personality. They want more energy. They want that personal touch, maybe even a little bit of an element of vlogging that they don’t get to see from you on Instagram because the videos are shorter, for example.
And I did a series where I ate one color for the entire day and I would go through all the colors and it did great, but I found it to be very draining. It wasn’t my real personality, I think. I was thinking of these great vloggers. You see like a Jake Paul, Logan Paul, and honestly, I commend them because it’s very exhausting.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah.
Remy Park: It’s always on kind of energy. And so, now I’ve changed a little bit, kind of shot myself in the foot by stopping that series, but I had to make sure there was something that was sustainable. And now I still approach it differently. I’ll have certain videos that I feel like just make sense for YouTube that people wouldn’t want to sit through on Instagram, for example. But I also think there’s way to repurpose every piece of content that you make as long as you’re smart about maybe the editing of it, and you can almost cross pollinate your platforms.
So, for example, if I film a matcha taste test on YouTube where I’m reviewing let’s say eight brands, I can cut snippets of that and have eight videos to put on TikTok that’s more digestible. And the editing style would be very different. It’s like text on screen, closed captions, that kind of thing, and trending sounds.
And then for Instagram, I feel like I can get away with posting similar content on both Instagram on TikTok, but the personality of TikTok feels a little bit more lighthearted and silly, whereas Instagram feels more curated and polished and aesthetic, at least back when I started, that was the vibe and it’s hard to let go of that. So, I think TikTok, you have to stay involved and take note of what trends you’re seeing and work really quickly. Instagram, you have a little bit more lead time, I feel.
But I think the best way to go about it if you’re trying to kind of maximize what you have footage wise is just to edit them all differently a little bit. Maybe that’s you add captions for TikTok, you change it up for reels. There’s ways to be efficient with it. But I do think each platform kind of has their own personality and the consumers want something different.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. When you say you have to move quickly on TikTok, what do you mean by that? What does that look like?
Remy Park: I think it’s kind of like people’s attention spans are so short, but also the trends rise and die very quickly. So, if you’re seeing, let’s say a trending recipe, one example from this year would be maybe the, what is it called? The pastry dough turnover where you just put a piece of pastry dough on top and you flip it over, and that’s a recipe. So, that trend went really viral. But by the time you’ve seen, I would say 10 people doing it, it might almost be not worth doing it anymore because the way to really grow is as soon as you see it, you want to be one of the first ones to do it.
Bjork Ostrom: So, how quickly would you see one, something like that, and then would you that day go get groceries delivered for it, record a video for it and put it out that night? What does that look like time-wise?
Remy Park: Yeah. I think if you can, that’s ideal. But then that’s the big difference between maybe TikTok food creators and those of us who are creating for the blog as well, and we’re doing the process shots and all of that. It’s kind of hard to throw a wrench into your content plan. But my sister, she’s a lot younger than I am. She’s the one who would be sending me TikToks, “You need to make this today. Make this recipe today.”
Bjork Ostrom: She’s almost like your research assistant.
Remy Park: Exactly. And I realized she’s right, because the times when I would kind of botch my whole content plan for the week and I’d make the baked feta pasta, that one did great, but I don’t think it’s the most sustainable thing either. So, I think it depends a little bit on personality type.
Now, I like to kind of do a mix of both where I’m like, “All right, I’ll do these three kind of less interesting recipes that are more SEO friendly. And then in the mix, I’ll throw in a couple and leave room for these trends that’ll come up every once in a while.” Because more often than not, they’re very simple. People on TikTok like a quick and easy recipe.
Bjork Ostrom: So, when you say you’re doing a recipe, it’s SEO focus. So, you’ll do that. You’ll focus on your site. You’ll post a recipe that maybe has some search intent behind it to your site, and then you’ll create supporting social content around that, knowing that it might not do as well on social, but the play is going to be more traffic to your site. My guess is then you also have opportunities where you know something’s going to do well on social. Do you ever just create something for social and then not post it to your blog?
Remy Park: Oh, yeah. I’ve definitely done that a lot. One example is I made a nitro matcha latte, and I was like, “This is one ingredient.” There’s not really much search intent there. People aren’t looking for how to make that. But then sometimes, I also throw it up there too, because there are certain people who are browsing TikTok but prefer to save something that has maybe more room to explain what’s going on and details.
So, nowadays, sometimes I’ll put something up that just is a fun idea I had, and I’ll work with someone on the SEO side to shift the title maybe, or how can we make this something that’s worth having on the site because the content’s there and it’s been created. Yeah, it just feels like when you juggle so many platforms, a smart thing to do is hopefully to find a piece of content that resonates on more than just one platform. But there are also definitely things that I post strictly for TikTok or strictly on Instagram, and that’s okay, too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup. So, if you were to rank the importance of each of the platforms, one platform being your site, how would you rank those in order of importance?
Remy Park: I think it’s a little backwards, but I would say my site is definitely sometimes the last thought, just because I think that’s the part of me that really feels this hesitancy towards just doing everything in a very strategic way. I feel like I like to be a little bit more fluid with how I’m creating. So, I would say Instagram is my favorite, but I think TikTok is also the most fun to play with because there’s a little bit more of that breathing room. So, I’d probably say it’s Instagram, TikTok, maybe the website and then YouTube last.
But that changes depending on the month, honestly. Sometimes I fall into YouTube really heavy one month and then another month, I’m really into TikTok, and it’s impossible to be completely balanced with all of them at all times.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is probably a good thing just for somebody who likes some variety, likes to follow where there’s a poll to not have to feel locked in to like, “Oh, I always have to go about doing it exactly this way.” To have some variety, it feels like it would be a good thing. So, what is it like for you working with brands that’s an important piece of the puzzle when you have a following on social, and what are you seeing from the interactions that you do have with brands? And I know part of it you can maybe talk about attending events with brands and that being a component of what you’re doing and then how that all plays into the different platforms.
I know for Pinch of Yum, we’re starting to see more people say, we actually lost a deal because they’re like, “Hey, you have a great Instagram following and we want to do Instagram and TikTok.” And they’re like, “Oh, you’re kind of active on TikTok, but not really.” And so, we’re seeing that being important now with a lot of the brand deals that we’re doing. But what is it like for you as you think about brands as it relates to these platforms as well?
Remy Park: Yeah, I think brand partnerships are definitely my bread and butter or my bread and vegan butter, I should say. It’s ever since the beginning actually, when I didn’t really have much of a following, that was how I was able to leave my corporate job. I think it’s for me, the quality of the company-
Bjork Ostrom: And when was that, after you started in 2017, when did you make the transition?
Remy Park: It was 2017 actually.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, it’s the same year?
Remy Park: Yeah. Basically what happened was I had an internship for the job that I was going to work for. I graduated six months early and I had about nine months before I started my job, so a big chunk of time to kind of just do nothing. And I was like, “I’ll just put more time into my content.” I love to do it anyway. And then I started my corporate job. I was three months in and it was a consulting job. I wasn’t really sleeping very much, and I think the quality of life was really missing, especially for the salary that I was being paid. I was like, “Well, there’s not really much going on here.”
And I have a history with addiction. So, when I realized that my sleep, my nutrition, all of that was going out the window, and quite honestly, I was around a lot of cocaine because that’s a lot of the big companies in New York. It’s everywhere. And I just was like, “I think I need to take a leave. I need to make sure that I’m good because whether or not I come back to this job, I’m not going to be able to go forward if this is going to be an issue again.”
And then it was, I think one day before that that I got one of my biggest brand partnerships that was my entire salary, just like a couple thousand dollars off. And I was like, “That seems like a big sign. At least now I know that I’m okay for a year, so I’m just going to quit and see what happens.” Not realizing that I would be paid net 120. So, I was really cutting it close.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, I see. In the contract it was like, “You’ll get paid this much.” She was like, “This is great. This is what I need, but you won’t be paid for 120 days after.” Yup.
Remy Park: Exactly. Right. So, I learned a lot, but I quit. And then I think it maybe in my mind was all about the intention. Once you know you have to make it work, it just works like you have no other choice really. So, yeah, that’s how I left my job. Now, I’m blanking on your question.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I can restate it, but it’s worth I think circling back to it, too. I think one of the things that we often jump over, but it’s important to point out is the ability to control your environment. And for some people, that might be you work with toxic team members. For other people, it might be you have great team members, but you aren’t doing something that feels like it’s contributing or making a difference.
And in your case, what a powerful motivator to say, “I know that I have this struggle with addiction and I’m around environments that are terrible for that.” And so, what does it look like for your own health to get out of that, super powerful motivator? Also, then what does it look like to create revenue to sustain myself and to keep the ability to control exactly what you want your environment to look like? So, kudos to you for doing what inevitably was a really hard thing to do. And my guess is from that point, you’ve been continuing to do this as your full-time gig since then?
Remy Park: Yeah, I’ve been very lucky, I think through brand partnerships and now I remember your question. I think it’s been possible for me and I think there’s something to be said about, of course there are so many different revenue streams that creators have. It’s interesting, especially now connecting with some of my friends who’ve kind of blown up during the pandemic, and it’s so different for a lot of us, but that is really something that’s been my bread and butter and I love to create for brands.
But back then when I had maybe 5,000 followers, I started getting brand partnerships, but more for the sake of using the content. I’ve always shot on a camera versus using my phone, which is also why it’s really hard for me to now switch to using my phone, even though it’s very convenient.
I think sometimes, the money is not necessarily in the following that you have, but it can also be in how usable your content is for a brand. If it is running high quality, amazing, they can use that for their socials, for their website, even. The recipe itself, that’s a talent that some people have and some people don’t. So, being able to provide a recipe can be the money, too.
And so, yeah, it’s been amazing. I think just having that option where even though I know by no means do I have a million followers, whereas many of my friends do, and growth for me has been a lot slower despite it being pretty steady, I think I feel good knowing that for me, it’s the content. It’s the aesthetic that people want to pay for. It’s the good lighting and it’s a nice skill I think to have. So, it’s not all about the numbers, I would say.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And when you’re first starting out, you could have zero followers, but if you’re creating content that’s compelling, that’s interesting, it’s two separate things. A following doesn’t mean good content and good content doesn’t always mean a following. A lot of times, those eventually will pair up and you’ll find that as you have, but it actually is related to … Well, one last thought on that. It’s almost like you’re a studio. You’re a marketing or digital creation studio, and brands notice that good content and they say, “We want to be aligned with that or have our brand be a part of that.”
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And actually, we have a Facebook group. If listeners just search Food Blogger Pro podcast, you’ll be able to find it. And occasionally, we’ll get questions from people who are part of that group. And Alexandra says, “I love Remy’s site. The branding is very distinct and her photos are instantly recognizable, which I think is awesome. I’d love to hear about how she strategizes for and executes the visuals.” So, exactly related to what you’re saying, can you talk a little bit about how you approach that and your mindset with creating that type of compelling content?
Remy Park: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s funny because with a lot of my friends, when they see anything that’s pink or green, they’ll immediately think of me. And at first, it wasn’t intentional. I genuinely really love pink and green. Actually, I’m wearing blue today, but it’s very rare that I do.
And it makes it easy because as much as it is my real life and my real home, I tailor the way that my home looks to make it easy for me to also create content because I do lifestyle content and it’s just so much easier than having to put up a set every day, if that makes sense. So, let’s say I’m looking for a shelf or a kitchen counter or appliances, I’m always going to lean towards things that match the brand. And I think everyone who’s creating content can almost think of themselves as a brand.
I’m not saying everyone needs to be tied to a color. But back when we were all only doing food photos, I think it was very evident that people had a sort of aesthetic and this expectation when they were seeing recipes that you post that you’d almost kind of know how it would look, whether it’s moody, blue tones, like bright and airy.
And I think that’s really important for brands, too, because it’s showing them almost a portfolio of what they can expect from you in creating content. But overall, I think what’s been helpful for me is shooting with daylight, which isn’t always the most practical, but I’m very reliant on daylight. And then also, the props I feel like can make a big difference. So, if let’s say you want to go over something moody, I would invest in props that are going to fit that, maybe darker, dark blues, blacks, browns, things like that.
And same with surfaces and backdrops because we’re not all blessed with marble counters, but a backdrop can make the world of difference in your photos. And then for me, it’s definitely pink and green props. It’s like this almost Scandinavian aesthetic, maybe Japanese minimalism kind of thing. And when I’m creating a photo and even a recipe, sometimes there are things that don’t make the cut because I can’t find a way to make it look good in a photo. That’s just kind of the reality sometimes of a visual first platform.
But I would say try to even visualize the photo first or how you’re going to style it before you go into it or get really attached to a piece of content. Because I think the worst thing is when you have this amazing video and then you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t have a beautiful thumbnail image,” or “I don’t have an image that I can use to link to on Pinterest.”
But find your aesthetic, kind of find what you like, and I think you’ll gravitate towards that. I would go through all the photos that you’ve saved on social media to figure out what your aesthetic is or what you like, and then try to create some kind of brand identity through either colors or photo style. It helps you stand out, I think, a little bit.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The branding piece feels like it’s so important. You develop this brand, it’s something that sets you apart. There’s a lot of people creating food content, but the one thing that’s kind of defensible in this industry is your own personality and your own brand, and you’ve done such a good job of that.
Another question that Alexandra asks is, “How do you balance sharing recipes with sharing more general lifestyle content?” She says on Instagram, but just on the platforms in general. And I know you talked about that at the beginning a little bit, just this idea of you being comfortable with that and that being an important piece of the puzzle. And I also think as we contemplate this world of artificial intelligence and the ability for these search engines to generate content, not just to surface it.
The one defense against that is leaning into your humanity and your connection to followers. And so, whether you call it lifestyle content or just story around personality or around yourself, that feels like it’s going to be increasingly important. And I think everybody kind of thinks about how that fits in for them. So, how do you approach that?
Remy Park: Yeah, I think about this a lot actually, because sometimes, I feel like I should have a separate page almost for lifestyle things. But I think more than anything, that’s kind of the brand that I want to communicate that it’s food, but it’s also that wellness and the veganism, if you’re vegan, that kind of plays a role in other parts of your life. So, it’s the fashion. It’s the taking care of yourself through movement.
I try to incorporate a little bit of everything, and I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s really nice to be able to post a picture of your cat or your life and not have to cook something when you’re scrambling for content. So, there is that element. I do think for growth though, I’m not always sure that it’s the best move, honestly, because there’s something to be said about being very specific with what your content is and the platforms being able to take that and be like, “Okay, this is a food account, let’s serve it out.”
So, there’s pros and cons, but I think what I really love about it is that it, like you said, has this personal element to it and people feel connected to you. And I think for me, it’s also good practice to just show up a little bit more on camera and share my life. I find it to be kind of therapeutic, but I would say I try to keep it still primarily food focused because at the end of the day, I want to be a resource in that way.
And I would say if anyone is kind of thinking about maybe sharing some lifestyle elements, it could always start with photos of you and let’s say you’re on a vacation and food that you eat on vacation, you could still always tie it back to food or whatever your niche is. But once you establish what your sort of umbrella is of things that you want to cover, I think it can be really incredible.
And especially for brand partnerships too, because I’m vegan, so I feel like there are vegan opportunities, but not so much compared to friends of mine who are just doing strictly all kinds of food. I can never do dairy, things like that. So, it opens the door for me a little bit more to be able to do partnerships with Lululemon and do yoga or travel or wellness. So, I think it just depends on what you want to focus on and also if you’re comfortable with it.
Because I will say, I went into it very naive thinking, “I’ve always been sharing my personal life, it’s totally fine.” And it wasn’t until last year that I really experienced a lot of pretty negative things as a result of putting yourself out there. You have to be ready to experience the negative sides of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. How did you navigate that? Because I think that’s one of the fears is you’re being vulnerable in putting yourself and your story out there. And the internet can be a wonderful thing and it can be a terrible thing. So, what was that like for you to experience it, and what advice would you have for other people who are maybe going through that or inevitably if they do continue to create content at some point will experience it in some way?
Remy Park: Yeah. I think I have tried to make it seem like I’m still sharing a lot of my personal life while also protecting certain aspects of my life. So, I really try not to talk too, too much about my family or anyone who’s very close to me, relationships with any friends or anyone in my life. I kind of try to keep it offline because I think that when you have other people weighing in on your relationships, I realize that it’s not only affecting me, but anybody who I kind of include in my content. And some of those people did not sign up to hear other people’s thoughts about them.
So, it’s almost like you let them into certain aspects of your life. Maybe it’s like, “Hey, I’m struggling with a lot of anxiety today. Here are some things I’m doing,” and that feels personal, but I’m not really telling you what I’m doing in my life. I’m not telling you about issues that I’ve had in the past week. So, there’s a way to almost pull back a little bit. And I think that’s really important for your own mental health because let’s say you’re really going through it and then you start hearing outside opinions on top of that, it can feel very crushing.
But I think above all, I realized last year that I feel so connected to my platform and very protective of it, but it’s not me. As much as I feel like I’m very authentic and real on my platforms, it’s still just a presentation of me, if that makes sense. So, whatever’s being said about my content or what’s being put out there is a fraction of who I am. And it’s important to have that separation so that if anything does happen, you still know who you are deep down.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s almost like viewing it as this separate thing, the separate entity, which is echoes and reflections of who you are, but it’s not you and therefore, people, if they are commenting, they’re commenting on that, which isn’t you. And it feels like a great kind of line to have in the sand to say, “These are two separate things.”
One of the things that you had mentioned and would be interested in hearing about because I think a lot of people are interested in this topic is working with those brands. You talk about Lululemon for yoga or some of the more lifestyle type brands. How do you go about making those connections? Do those brands just reach out? Are you reaching out to them? What do the conversations look like? How does that all work?
Remy Park: Okay. I love talking about this so much because speaking of TikTok creators, I feel like some of my friends who are newer to it, they don’t have the same opportunities coming to them. And I think hopefully, this will be helpful advice for everyone. I realize that I think I have a somewhat unique approach to it because from the beginning when I was working more as almost like a photographer for these brands, when I had a very small following, I realized that a lot of it comes down to building that personal relationship with people.
When I was in New York, very easy. I would have five coffees a day with people just because it was so nice to meet someone in real life versus just email everyone. And at that time, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I just left my job. So, it was kind of like, “What do I do with all my time?” But as much as sometimes I feel like it’s nice for us as creators to be like, I just want to stay home and work on my content. I don’t want to talk to anybody and just focus in.
But sometimes, that lunch or that coffee is what’s going to set you apart from someone else because it’s all about when the time comes and a brand has money for a campaign to spend, and they’re thinking about what creator they want to work with, it’s all about who comes to mind first. And that could be following and demographic are definitely one element of it. But there have been partnerships that I feel like I’ve gotten just as a result of how close I am to the brand or what I do for them independent of money.
So, I guess another thing that I feel like I do a lot is I’ll share things and tag brands in my stories just because I love them and because I want to share them, but knowing that I’m not getting paid for it. So, a lot of people have a resistance to, I know I’m not going to tag Lululemon because they’re not paying me, and that’s valid, too. But I also think to some degree, you’re almost building that rapport and showing the brand that you are an authentic user of the brand. And I think that’s important, too.
If you love Healthy Kombucha, for example, tag them all the time because you love it anyway, it’s authentic. And then when the time comes and maybe they have a partnership opportunity, you now have that in and it’s going to also seem very natural to your audience. So, it helps in two ways because it not only builds the rapport, but it also shows your audience that you do tag brands regularly. And when you do a partnership, it’s not going to feel like it’s out of the blue.
Bjork Ostrom: Out of the blue, yeah.
Remy Park: So, it’s the priming. It’s the building the relationship. And if you have a manager that you work with for social media, one thing I think is really helpful is just checking in with the brands you’ve worked with in the past. Let’s say if I’ve worked with Vitamix last year and I’m like, “Hey, do you think we’ll work this year?” It’s a lot of effort, honestly, but it’s a great thing to do. And if you have someone to help you with it, that’s also amazing.
So, I would say those are the most helpful things in addition to having a vision for a partnership. So, in the times that I have reached out to a brand with an idea, having a very clear idea like, “Hey, this is how I want to position your brand. I have this amazing idea for this piece of content,” you’re almost making it easier for them to not have to think of an opportunity to use you. You’re like, “I have the campaign brief for you. Do you love this content? Let’s do it together.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome. So much of it is sales, and so much of sales is relationships, and so much of relationships is giving and time and effort, not just sales relationships, but any relationship. If you’re dating somebody, it’s a slow thing that you connect with them, you get to know them, have meals together. And I think it’s so different than how we’re used to operating in the world of content creation or anything digital, which is like you send an email off, you post something really quick. It’s short, quick interactions.
So, I think your point about the relationship element is so important and it’s so counter to how most of us are used to working, which is behind a computer, usually not taking calls, it’s emails, it’s DMs. But how did you get those if you were having five coffees in a day, how did you actually make that initial connection?
Remy Park: So, I think events are one thing that I do find important. We’ll get event invites. I think sometimes, they might not be worth their time. But if you’re kind of starting to build more relationships, I think it can be helpful to go. And I think the normal thing a lot of us do is we go to an event, we take the photos, we tag the brand, do all that, and we take the goodie bag and we leave.
But I feel like the biggest piece that you’re missing is connecting with the person who invited you and the agency having a chat with them. That’s really what I feel like the value is in going to an event and showing them, “Hey, I’m really interested. Thank you for having me. Great to be here.” A lot of these agency people too will represent multiple brands. So, I think that’s a very important connection to make.
But outside of that, let’s say you get any inquiry or gifting even if someone’s like would love to get your address, just reaching out and be like, “Hey, I really love your brand. Would love to grab a coffee if you’re in town,” or “Are you local to LA?” I know that I’m actually an introverted person, so it is harder for me than maybe most, but other things you could do or if you’re having a Friendsgiving, invite a couple people that you’ve connected with from an agency, for example, and just build a friendship outside of it.
But yeah, there’s nothing wrong with cold emailing or DMing. Let’s say you’re tagging Lululemon on Instagram a bunch and you’re like, “Hey, I don’t know who runs this account, but let’s get a coffee sometime,” or something.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. And then do you work with a manager? Is that something that you do or are you managing all the accounts on your phone?
Remy Park: Yeah, I do work with a manager. I’ve been working with her for about five years. She was at a different agency and then moved, and I followed her over there. And because I’m very averse to sort of the business side and contracts and numbers-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, contracts and yeah.
Remy Park: I really need her to just look it over because I’ll just sign anything to get it out of my face, which is terrible.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally, to be done with it.
Remy Park: I’m like, “Yes, yes, sign away. Oh, my god.” So, I’ve been working with her for a long time. But I think in the beginning there was a real struggle in being so niche with vegan makeup, nontoxic, cruelty-free. So, a lot of my work is inbound now.
And I would say just to manage people’s expectations, working with a manager doesn’t always mean that you’re going to suddenly have access to 20 brand partnerships. I think you still have to kind of build those relationships yourself a little bit, but they can absolutely help with strategy, making sure that whatever contracts that do come in are in your favor and you’re not being taken advantage of.
And I know there’s also sometimes maybe a hesitancy for some people because they feel like they’re giving away a percentage of the money that they’d make. But I can say confidently that any partnership that I’ve worked on with my manager, they negotiate it up to the point where even with the cut that they’re taking, I’m making more money. So, it’s good to have an advocate for yourself, I think.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. And allow you to do what you’re good at. You’re not having to read contracts and negotiate and do all that stuff. Remy, your story is really inspiring for multiple reasons and really fun to talk through all those different things. Another thing that you have going on that’s pretty cool is your cookbook. So, want to make sure that we shine a light on that, not out yet, but people can preorder it. Talk a little bit about what that process was like and how people can check it out if they’re interested in buying it.
Remy Park: Yeah, I would love to. I actually started working on it before COVID. I got an email from a publisher that I loved and was really excited. But I think a combination of just it not being the right time and not having a literary agent, it fell through the cracks. So, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I revisited the idea. I was like, “Listen, I want to write a cookbook. It’d be nice to have something that’s physical that you can hold in your hands. You never know what’s going to happen with social media.”
And so, we started working on a cookbook. And as I was kind of writing, I feel like a lot of the recipes that I wanted to include were recipes from my family. A big thing, and a lot of Asian families and other cultural families is like, you don’t really measure a lot. So, in the process, I had to reach out to my grandma, for example, to get the recipe for one of her Japanese dishes, and we’d end up talking on the phone about, “Remember when I made it at this time of year, and then this happened,” and it turned into stories.
And I realized that a lot of the storytelling that I do can be linked to a recipe or a moment in time. Food is about so much more than just food, I think, and that’s why it also ties back to that home meme about food bloggers writing a story about their blueberry pie. But for a lot of us, it’s very emotional and sentimental. And food has a lot of memories tied to it. So, that’s kind of the premise of the book. It’s stories pertaining to my family and my cultural identity and recipes that are very representative of the way that I grew up.
So, it’s kind of like Asian fusion, Asian flavors. But my family really did grow up in the US and we are very familiar with Pop-Tarts, pancakes, waffles. That’s what we like to eat, but we might put a little miso maple syrup on it. It’s like there’s elements of our culture, but I feel like it’s very authentic to the way that we are. There’s influences from my French uncle, my Brazilian aunt. It’s just a lot of mishmash, I guess. But that’s how we are.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Remy Park: And in addition to that, kind of going into the story of a lot of what we talked about today, which is finding veganism to heal not only my addiction issues and eating disorder stuff, but also realizing that there’s a way to combine both your cultural dishes and also veganism because a lot of vegan food is kind of related to, I guess more western food. We think vegan mac and cheese, sandwiches, salads, wraps, but we don’t often immediately think, how can we make a miso soup without the fish stock?
So, it’s almost like showing that there is that representation, I guess in veganism that there’s ways to do it because it’s not necessarily a diet, it’s a way of thinking about food.
So, hopefully, it’s an appeal to people who maybe thought that veganism was just not for them because they want to preserve their culture. I went through that phase of just feeling very disconnected from my culture, and it took me years of being vegan to finally come to terms with the fact that you could still eat your favorite dishes and actually cook them with your family members, and they’re going to feel more connected to you through that.
Because in Asian culture, food is one of the main ways we communicate. We don’t say “I love you” or anything. We just bring each other plates of food or fruit. So, when you’re missing the food, it’s almost like how do you connect with your family anymore? It could be very alienating. So, yeah, that’s kind of what the book is about. It’s really exciting. And yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: What’s it called and where can people get it?
Remy Park: It’s called Sesame Soy Spice. You can pick it up anywhere where you can buy books, and it’s on sale March 26th, but you can pre-order it right now.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. And best place to pre-order would be…
Remy Park: You can go to veggiekinsblog.com/cookbook, or just on Amazon. You can look up Sesame Soy Spice, and it’ll pop up. Barnes and Nobles as well. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. The last question for you, you rewind the tape back to 2017, you’re sitting down to have a matcha with yourself. What is the advice that you give you six, seven years from now or six, seven years ago?
Remy Park: Gosh, I think the advice I would give myself is to maybe hold off quitting until you have the money in the bank. It’s like, take your time, make sure you’re good. Do things in a way to kind of not stress your future self out. And just always be open to opportunity. I have a very hard time being, or I guess dealing with uncertainties, but had I not done that, I would never have ended up here. So, I think just being open-minded and seeing where things take you.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Love it, Remy. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Remy Park: Thank you.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, there. Alexa here. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We hope you enjoyed it and we hope you’re having a great start to your December. Can’t believe that we’re here already, but we have some great content planned for December for Food Blogger Pro members, and we wanted to tell you a little bit about it.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the Food Blogger Pro membership, some of the courses you get access to, as well as how the forum works and Q&As and stuff like that, any details that you need to know about Food Blogger Pro before you join can be found at foodbloggerpro.com/join. And you can get signed up right there.
But what I always like to say is that your membership, your Food Blogger Pro membership will look different at the end of each month, and that’s because we are always adding new content or updating old content so that you know your Food, Blogger Pro membership will always grow in value.
So, on the 7th, that’s this Thursday, we have a coaching call coming out with Vinny from Always From Scratch. And coaching calls are calls that are recorded for the Food Blogger Pro membership between Bjork and a Food Blogger Pro member. So, if you’re a member, you can actually apply to have your own coaching call with Bjork. It’s just a great way to ask your specific questions related to your specific situation in blog, and they’re just always a lot of fun.
So, in this coaching call with Vinny, they talk about affiliate links, goal setting, finding clients and marketing to the right people and so much more. It’s a good one. And then on the 14th, we’ll have a live Q&A, and that is with the one, the only Bjork. So, in this Q&A, it’s an Ask Bjork anything Q&A. So, any and all blog questions are fair game for this, and it’s open to all Food Blogger Pro members.
And if you’re actually not a member and you’re not interested in the full membership right now, you can get access to this Q&A by going to foodbloggerpro.com/webinars, and you’ll find a way to attend live for a fee there as well.
And then finally, on the 21st, we have a new course coming out. Natalie on the team will be creating a course all about blogging with a full-time job. And this was actually inspired by a series that we had on our podcast not too long ago, and it has been one of our most popular series on the podcast. So, we definitely recommend checking out that course when it’s live on the 21st.
But that does it for us this week, and we’re so excited about the content that we have planned for December. And if you have any questions, you can hit us up at [email protected]. Otherwise, we will see you next time. Thanks so much for tuning in.