366: How Rob and Jen Morris Teach Home Bakers How to Start a Successful Bakery Business

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Baked goods in a bakery and the title of Rob and Jen Morris' episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Start a Successful Bakery Business.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 366 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Rob and Jen Morris about how they teach home bakers how to start a bakery business.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Emily Perron about the Zone of Genius and hiring. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

How to Start a Successful Bakery Business

We’re really excited to welcome Rob and Jen back to the podcast after three years!

When they last came on the show, Jen and Rob were running their bakery, Cupcakeology, but since then, they have closed up shop and started sharing their expertise as baking business coaches.

Through their Start Small Win Big Academy, they teach home bakers how to start a profitable and successful bakery business — just like they did! You’ll hear why they decided to make this switch, how they’re grown their new business, what success their students have had, and more.

A quote from Rob and Jen Morris' appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'We want to teach people how to be entrepreneurs, how to make it so that there's no ceiling on what you can make.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Rob and Jen decided to close their bakery
  • Why they decided to launch the Start Small Win Big Academy
  • How they approach marketing for their new business
  • How they use paid advertising to grow their business
  • How they attract students who are motivated and excited
  • Why they encourage their students to smart small and grow over time


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

  • Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

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

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti. C-L-A-R-I-T-I is how you spell clarity, all different iterations of how people say it, but it’s clarity because it helps you to be clear on what it is that you need to be working on, and really gives you direction around how you can go around improving, and updating, and tracking the content on your blog. We built it because we had been managing everything in a spreadsheet. My guess is there’s two people listening to this podcast. One would be you are people who track stuff, and you probably track it in a spreadsheet, maybe Airtable, maybe Notion, and my guess is it’s a lot of manual work.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s another group of people who just aren’t tracking anything and that’s okay. You’ll get there eventually, but Clariti’s going to be the tool that’s going to allow you to do that more easily. It’s going to allow you to not spend as much manual time doing the tracking, updating, improving, and just generally understanding the lay of the land with your content. One of the things that I think is most important, a lot of times we talk about hiring on this podcast, but one of the things we don’t talk about enough, and I probably should talk about it more is some of the first positions you should hire for are software. It’s not an actual person. You’re hiring software to come in and do a lot of the work that you are doing, and that’s what Clariti is for us, as the Pinch of Yum team, Food Blogger Pro team. We use Clariti to take manual work away from our day-to-day tasks, and we automate that. It’s one of the easiest ways to have your first hire.

Bjork Ostrom: If you’re thinking, “Oh, I hear people talk about hiring a lot. Who should my next hire be?” My encouragement for you would let your next hire be a tool like Clariti, where you’re going to spend $25 a month, and you’re going to save an incredible amount of time. That’s what it’s all about. If you want to check it out, if you want to learn a little bit more about what it is and how it works, you can go to clariti.com/food, and you can deep dive into the ins and outs of Clariti just by signing up for that list. That’s not going to sign you up for the app. It’s not going to sign you up and process any payments or anything like that. It’s just going to allow you to understand the tool better through some onboarding emails that give you a little bit of context around what Clariti does and why we built it. Again, that’s clariti.com/food, if you want to check that out.

Bjork Ostrom: As a last note here, we’re halfway through this 25 forever deal. When I say you can think of hiring Clariti at $25 a month as, as a little team member who’s in the background, working for you, that deal’s not going to last forever. We’re just wanting to get to our first 500 users as we’re in the early stages with this. You’ll still get a lot of value out of it, but the great thing is as the value within Clariti increases, as we build out more features, as we build out more functionality, you will be locked in at that $25 price as a thank you for signing up early, for being somebody who’s using the tool early on, giving us feedback. So thank you to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello. This is the Food Blogger Pro podcast. My name is Bjork Ostrom. We do this podcast for people who are publishers, creators, influencers, people who are creating content online, and usually, not always, but usually those people are in this space of recipes or food, but we do have people who are in other niches, in other worlds who are interested in business best practices, and we welcome them as well. Just the other day, I had a conversation with somebody in our community, like our little literal community here in Minnesota, and he does car restorations. He was like, “I occasionally listen to the podcast,” which is so cool to hear. He’s like, “Yeah, it kind of applies to other industries as well,” which is really true, but our specific niches is food folks. We also find that we get some car folks, some home folks, and my dad as well. He’s the other one, pottery folks. He makes pottery and listens to the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: But today’s interview is with Rob and Jen Morris. We had a conversation with them. This was pre-COVID, and this was before the world that we know, and they talked about what it was like to run a cupcake business, a brick and mortar cupcake business that they had run for years and years, had been really successful with it. In this interview, we’re going to talk about a pivot that they’ve made and how they are now working with other business owners to help, kind of guide them along the way, and to teach them the things that they’ve learned. They’ve shifted into this world of education, but they’re using their years, their decades of experience owning a bakery to educate other people on best practices on what you can be doing if you want to create a brick and mortar physical location, or kind of a cottage industry type location to sell goods. They help people do that.

Bjork Ostrom: Not only are we going to talk about their transition, what that was like and how they pivoted their business successfully, but we’re also going to be talking about best practices for anybody who’s interested in creating some type of physical store or some type of business that sells physical goods or consumables, and all the ins and outs that go into that. I think you’ll enjoy the conversation, not only from a business owner perspective, but also for anybody who’s ever dabbled with or thought about potentially selling their own recipes, or opening a restaurant or a bakery. They’re going to have a lot of insight on that. So, let’s go ahead and jump in.

Bjork Ostrom: Rob and Jen, welcome back to the podcast.

Rob Morris: Thanks for having us again. We’re so glad to be here.

Jen Morris: So excited.

Bjork Ostrom: Last time we chatted, for those who want to check that interview out, was 2019, March 2019, and what a different life we were living, all of us, right, is before we knew the reality of global pandemics and everything else that’s happened within the last few years. But, there’s also been a lot that’s happening in your lives and in your businesses. At that point in 2019, could you roll the tape back, Jen, and tell us a little bit about what your day-to-day was like, and then you can talk about the transition that you guys have gone through within the last couple years.

Jen Morris: Yeah, sure. 2019 BC, right? The new BC, before COVID.

Bjork Ostrom: Before COVID, yeah.

Jen Morris: Yeah. So 2019, I think we were in… We were already in a mindset shift in our business. Before the whole world had to make a pivot, we were already taking these steps, internally first, to make a pivot. We were at the point where we were at a crossroads. It’s time to level up. It’s time to grow. It’s time to make this transition. What does that look like for us? Does that look like more stores? Does that look like franchising? We were thinking about franchising. What does that look like? But at that time, we already began coaching. Throughout our whole entire journey, as bakery owners, people have been coming in. “We’re watching your journey. How do you do this?” I mean, “Teach us.” I would do my best and he would do his best to go on the back and just talk to people on the phone, quietly, things like that, but we knew that wasn’t really helping them. They needed more than advice.

Jen Morris: Anybody in the food service industry, bakers, we had treat makers coming in. We had people who wanted to open up not necessarily restaurants, but takeout spots, food trucks, tacos, burgers, loaded fries, anything. We knew they needed something. They needed more of a step-by-step, more than what we could give them verbally while we were still working our business. We just got to the point where, all right, let’s try this. Things are moving online. Let’s try this digital world. We were already familiar with that with the food blog, Lovin’ From the Oven, blog. We were already familiar with that, so we decided to put out an ebook, a step-by-step ebook. It was for general business, retail business, that became popular. That was called, Think Like a CEO.

Jen Morris: Then we decided to make one specifically for bakers, Think Like a CEO, and we call it bakery edition. That group to end up being the number one business ebook for bakers online. It literally gives them the step-by-step. Something quick, no fluff, easily digestible. Then it just grew from there. We figured, all right, maybe this is something with our kids transitioning, they’re becoming younger adults, and they’re going to need us in a different way. Then that’s when COVID hit, and then we just decided kind of to just uproot our life. We moved to a different state, a state that we didn’t know a soul in.

Bjork Ostrom: Wow.

Jen Morris: We just needed a total change.

Bjork Ostrom: Where was… It sounds like there’s a lot of different variables, COVID being one of them, moving kids, obviously. A lot of the decision-making that I make in my life now is around our two daughters, and what does it look like. If I’m going to work more, what does that mean for them? It means probably that I’ll see them less, or in your case, my guess is if you’re going to start an additional location, it probably doesn’t mean that you’re going to be home more. It means that you’re going to be home less.

Jen Morris: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Then moving. As well. Rob, can you talk about as you each weighed those different variables, at what point did you say it’s time to wind down the retail location. Was there any grief or sadness with that, or was it more of relief? Grief of relief?

Rob Morris: It was a little bit of both because it’s hard to let go of something that you’ve been babying for a long time. Having that business is just like having a kid.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: You nurtured it, you fed it, you made sure that it was changed when it needed to be changed.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Rob Morris: It was a lot of that, but also during the transition, just trying to figure out our audience. Who needs our help? We were able to help a lot of different people, whether you had a food truck, whether you were a retail store, you were just selling from out of your house. We were able to help so many people, but the problem was, it was so broad.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: Once we narrowed it down and we said there’s so many bakers out there, and you’d be surprised how many people want to be bakers. They want to open up these stores. We had to kind of figure out, who are we going to appeal to the most? It was bakers.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: When we came up with that decision, that decision also was like, okay, where are we going to do this at? Are we going to keep the store open? Are we going to let them come in? Are we going to show them step-by-step? Are we going to do classes? We were like, it’ll be better if we can just do it online and make a community for everybody to talk amongst each other. Somebody can be in Arkansas or somebody can be in Michigan, and we’re all speaking at one time. That’s the way we decided to put it together, and so far, so good.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: We have so many different clients. They’re all over the place, and they really need our help. They need our help, and we’re so happy to give it to them because with the turn of this century, ’22 is something different. College, it’s there, but this is the new college.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: It’s kind of like teaching your family. You know what I mean? You spend a little bit, and you get a whole lot. You know what I mean? It’s better than spending a $100,000 and you get your degree and everything, but now you’re like, “What am I going to do?”

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Rob Morris: Me and my wife just had this conversation the other day. We were saying that nowadays college, it’s kind of like it’s teaching you to be an employee.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. Sure.

Jen Morris: We want to teach people how to be entrepreneurs and how to make it so that there’s no ceiling on what you can make. That’s our goal.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. It’s one thing that I see as a throughline. For people who are entrepreneurial-minded, there is this mindset around you need to go out and figure it out on your own. College is great. It’s a great way to learn how to learn.

Jen Morris: Excellent.

Bjork Ostrom: Obviously, there’s instances where professions where nursing, or you’re a doctor. You definitely want your doctor to go to college. But when you’re an entrepreneur, so much of what you learn is outside of the classroom. Oftentimes, the best way to learn entrepreneurial skills if you don’t have any, is either doing it yourself, or doing it closely with somebody else who has done it before, which it sounds like what you guys are doing. You’re able to kind of fast track that, similar to like the hope of Food Blogger Pro is us saying we’ve kind of gone through this. Here’s some of the things that we’ve learned over five years that maybe you can learn in five months, so you don’t have to go about doing that the hard way.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to know, when you made that transition, you were a retail shop, a retail bakery. You had people who knew you, who loved you, who came to your shop all the time, and then you’re transitioning to essentially, a new audience really.

Jen Morris: Brand new.

Bjork Ostrom: What was it like in those early stages to go out and find other people who were either aspirational in wanting to start a bakery or start a food business, or were doing it already and wanted to level up? How did you find those people and kind of build your audience in the early stages?

Rob Morris: Let’s talk about that. That’s a great question.

Jen Morris: That’s a loaded question for me because Rob knows, I struggled with that, Bjork.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Jen Morris: I struggled so bad because I’m thinking, “All right, we’re already popping. We’re up here. We’re like celebrity status.”

Bjork Ostrom: You know us. We’re good. We’re talented.

Jen Morris: Yeah. Everybody knows us. They love us already. I mean, we’re talking 11, 12 years. Then I didn’t grasp the concept of what you just said. This is a whole new business.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: A whole new market, a whole new audience that we’re servicing. Then when I made that transition… Yeah, I had my Cupcakeology site, my Cupcakeology fan, but then over here it’s like, “Hey, I’m Miss Cupcakeology. You need to be lucky that you’re learning from me.” They’re like, “Who are you? What are you talking about?” I’m going, “Oh, this is a transition, another transitional phase.” I struggled with that because I went from, like I said, being celebrity status, I can’t walk down the street and store. Everybody knows who I am. And to now, being essentially a nobody online. I had to hire help.

Jen Morris: I had to hire a coach for me, a mentor for me to help me switch up that mindset, to help me work through those barriers, and to help me realize that I’m more than a baker. I’m more than a food creator. I am someone who has over a decade of experience, knowledge, and not only that, there are many more facets of me that I’ve gone through as being a wife, as a business owner, a mom-preneur, a homeschool-prenuer, a writer, a speaker now. I have many more talents and gifts to share right now than I did 10 years ago, or even five years ago, or even three years ago as a bakery store owner. I needed to work through all of that. I needed to flush that out and kind of phase it out.

Jen Morris: Then he always helps me. He always says, “Babe, you can speak to more than bakers. You can speak to all of those different things and really help people coming from different places in their life to go down this one business journey.” You can essentially meet many people where they are, and help them from there. It took me a good year. 2021 was an interesting year for me, but it was a year of growth. It was a year of mindset shifting and changing. Now that’s something else under my belt because as I’ve worked through that pivot, now I can help people make the pivot from they’ve been a 9–5 worker all their life. They’ve been used to following directions, and now they’re changing into this whole different lifestyle and what that looks like. I can walk them through the journey.

Jen Morris: The Start Small Win Big Academy is essentially not just step-by-step into business, but we do a lot of life coaching in there.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh yeah, totally. It feels like a lot of business entrepreneurship, or even life, is mindset. It’s your approach to how you interact with your work, your relationship with your work, your belief in yourself as an entrepreneur. I’m curious to know, Rob, what did you feel like were the things that… You kind of alluded to this a little bit, Jen, which I think is great because I think a lot of times we come to a new thing, and we look at it and we’re like, “I’m not experienced in this thing,” but what you do have experience with is whatever it is that you’ve been really good at.

Bjork Ostrom: I think of Lindsay. She had 5, 6, 7 years as a teacher, and she started to publish recipes online. It’s like, “But wait, I’m a teacher.” It’s like, “Whoa, that’s actually a great skill in this world.” She would do workshops for people and would teach photography, and she was really skilled at that. For me, we’re coming into entrepreneurship and I’m like, “I don’t have experience with this. I’ve never worked in a business. It was nonprofit.” I worked in nonprofits my entire life, but one of the nonprofits that I worked in, we’d go and speak, and we’d be in front of kids, and we’d have to kind of speak off the cuff. It’s like, “Great. I’ll do a podcast. That’s something that I can do.”

Bjork Ostrom: As you made this pivot, what were the things that you brought with you that you now see as something, even though it was a new business that you now see as a valuable asset that you had, that you could deploy right away, and then what were the things that you truly had to learn as new endeavors that were like, “Well, I’m kind of starting from the beginning here and having to learn this.”

Rob Morris: Well, that’s a great question, by the way, too. First of all, we’ve been doing this for… I’ve been doing it for at least 12, 14 years, working in the food industry.

Jen Morris: Longer.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: 15, 20. Feels like 12.

Jen Morris: Yeah.

Rob Morris: I always tell my wife and my kids, I always tell them that if you want to learn from somebody, then you learn from somebody that does this, whatever you’re trying to learn, every single day. When you do it every day, that is what makes you a professional, right? Because back in the day, they had internships. That’s how you learned and came up with trades and stuff like that. If you have kids and they go to school, that teacher is… She’s a professional in what she does because she does it every day. If she took a break off for five years, she loses some of that professionalism. Or if a substitute comes in, we all know what happens when the substitute comes in. A substitute is not a professional at what she’s there for, because she doesn’t do that every day, at least that class.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: So if we’ve been doing this for 12, 14 years, we have everything that you need, so there’s not much that we needed to gain except for how to work this computer. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: How to advertise a little bit differently, how to use the Facebook ads, and Instagram and all that, but what really keeps you going and keeps you pumping real good is when you find out that the caliber of people that are coming in, we have teachers, doctors, lawyers. They are realizing that there’s more out here, and that they can actually apply themselves and not have punch a clock. You know what I mean? When you get those type of people in and they believe in you and they trust in you with their next endeavor, it’s just like, this is it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: You feel confident at what you’re teaching. They can always look at your past history and see everything that you did. If you type in Cupcakeology, everything comes up. I mean, we have conversations about things that’s so off-topic all the time, and that’s what makes us that likable couple. It’s personable. You know what I mean? It really is.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Rob Morris: At the same time, it is still business because we do get on people when they slack a little bit, because slack is going get you nowhere. It’s just the computer techy stuff that we had to really learn. You know what I mean? Right now, our monitor is jumping a little bit. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Rob Morris: You got to learn how to-

Bjork Ostrom: Call IT. Who is IT? Wait a minute. It just rings. It rings our own line. You are IT.

Bjork Ostrom: You spoke to this a little bit, but back to the audience part. What I love about what you’re doing is you found a niche, and you went to the niche of baking. You discovered… We created the ebook. It was great. But, we created an ebook that’s even more specific around baking and creating a bakery, and that got even more traction because people look at it and they’re like, “Yes, that’s me. I want to start a bakery. That’s my next endeavor.” So they know right away it’s a good fit for them, but then it’s going out and finding that audience.

Bjork Ostrom: It sounds like… Well, to finish that thought, I think what’s so great about it is you have this experience. You can teach it. You’ve created content around it, but then the hard part is then the audience building part. What’s been most effective for you to go out and discover where those people are? Because to your point, they could be in Minnesota, they could be in Canada, they could be in California, and the same general information is going to apply and help those people. The hard part is finding those people. If my cousin loves baking and she wants to start a bakery, you guys would be great to help her, but she doesn’t know that you exist, and you don’t know that she exists. How do you go out and find those people if you’re looking to build an audience, and in this case, partner to sell a course or train them in a certain skill?

Rob Morris: I’ll start, and you can finish off. First, I want to say, get you some young people.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: Get involved with the young people. You can’t do it all by yourself. Find you some social media people, some young kids that actually know what they’re doing, because they know what TikTok is. They know what Instagram is. They know what reels are. There are tons of young entrepreneurs out there that literally, they just do social media, and they are kings and queens of what they do. They’re going to be your bread and butter. That is what advertising is today. Newspapers are dead. Knocking on peoples doors are dead. That’s not going to get you to Minnesota. That’ll get you next door. You get you some young people. Definitely get you some young people.

Rob Morris: Don’t be afraid of the new trends. They do a little dancing here and there. Get into that TikTok. That’s where your people are. Facebook is the bomb. It really is. Everybody’s on it, but you also have to get some coaching, like my wife said, on how to spend your dollars and budget with that because it’s not cheap.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: That’s another big transition that we had to deal with. Our budget is no longer food. Now it’s advertising. You’re talking about almost $100,000 a year on advertising just to bring in what you’re trying to bring in. Once you learn that piece of the puzzle, then this becomes a little bit more easier.

Jen Morris: Yeah. I think what works for us a lot, and thank God we started doing it beforehand with the actual storefront, is Facebook ads. Facebook is my nemesis.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, you and many others.

Jen Morris: They went through a lot of changes themselves, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: What used to work in Facebook ads, I had to relearn it all over again, just like that, to not lose my advertising dollars, to not waste it. What works for us is still, the Facebook ads, because even though they don’t work like they used to down to the very penny, however, without it, like you said, if you had your sister in Minnesota and we’re here in South Jersey, I’m really going to have to work really hard on social media every minute of my day in order to reach her, but then still Facebook ads works in that way.

Jen Morris: But along with that, before, I could just rely on that. Now I have to do Facebook ads, plus I still have to do social media, which I don’t like to do too much, but I heavily rely a lot on SEO. I learned about SEO from first of all, Food Blogger Pro. I’m just plug that in there right now because binging on your podcast, and we talked about that last podcast. Binging on that has taught me how to… Really, food blogging was our introduction to the internet world, to making money on the internet, to be quite honest. I never would have went down that rabbit hole if I didn’t find your podcast to learn about food blogging, to do food blogging, to then learn about all the other different income streams that I can have and apply online.

Jen Morris: Learning SEO, and then learning how to really put those keywords in, really get into the psychological of our customers. What are their pain points? What are they feeling? Then I can relate to it because we felt the same way. We went through the same things, the same way, at the same time. It’s just all about really honing in on who that audience is, and what they’re going through at that right time to be able to grab them. I hear people say all the time, “I was just up late one night, and I just happened to Google business plans, and next thing you know, you popped up on my Instagram, and here I am.” It’s incredible.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It sounds like a combination of both organic, so TikTok, different social media, search engine optimization, and then paid. I think paid advertising is something that for a lot of people who listen to this podcast, they’re just in the mindset of search, like SEO. You got to get SEO, and then from SEO, you get traffic, and then from traffic, you get ad dollars. But one of the great things about paid advertising is… Would be interested if… You don’t have to show like specific numbers, but my guess is you’re spending $100,000. You’re making more than $100,000, and you know what that equation is where you could say with paid advertising, you can start to get to the point where if I put a penny in, then I know that I can get two pennies out.

Bjork Ostrom: Once you figure that out, it becomes a scalable business in a way that doesn’t exist for a publishing site where you’re producing content to get traffic, to monetize via ads. Was that one of the things that you learned in working with this coach that you worked with, was strategy around paid advertising, and a funnel that’s a part of it, and then people signing up? I’d be curious to know your mindset around advertising, and even like what the shifts were with Facebook. It sounds like when tracking shifted, suddenly… Before, you maybe put one penny in and you got four out. Now you’re putting one penny in and you’re getting two out. You’re still able to do it effectively, but not as effectively as it was before.

Jen Morris: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Just, I guess curious to hear your thoughts around paid advertising as a strategy, and kind of where you would rank order that in terms of importance for the academy.

Jen Morris: I had many coaches, Bjork. It wasn’t just that one.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Jen Morris: She was working on another part of me, but the ones I had after our journey as food bloggers, my very first investment into something that wasn’t tangible was Facebook ads. I think maybe that was the second one. Second one was Facebook ads. I took a Facebook ads course, and that definitely is still a journey. So yes, before then, it was all about learning metrics. I was just putting out there… Facebook gets you in a good way. Oh, just boost this $10, and you can show up in front of many more people. You don’t want to show up. You want the conversion. That’s what I had to learn.

Jen Morris: The conversion metrics was like you said. Okay, before the iOS 14 update, I’ll put in a penny and I’ll get five pennies back. Life was just great, and I don’t even have to go on social media on my phone. That’s what I’m paying Facebook to do. Then after that iOS, in one sense it’s great as a user because “Oh, great. They won’t track me. These businesses won’t stalk me.” But then as a business owner, as a marketer, you’re like, “Ah, now I can’t stalk them. Now I can’t track them.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly.

Jen Morris: I mean even if they want… But honestly speaking, even if they wanted our services and needed our services, and didn’t mind seeing our ads because it’s something that they wanted, who’s going to say, when the question pops up, “Oh, do you want this service or company to track you?: Everybody’s going to say no.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right.

Jen Morris: That was something that was definitely a challenge. Now it’s about going through different avenues, and like I said before, having to now do more organic because now we may not be able to track an iOS user, an Apple user, but I can now see them… They can see me on Instagram, or they can see me on Facebook, and then they’re in my email, and then now I can email them too, all automated of course, but they can see me in my email so we’re kind of catching them at many different places instead of just one place now.

Rob Morris: But also to add to that though, we don’t want people to think that’s it. Just because you spent money on an ad and people see you and they click on you, that doesn’t mean that you made that conversion. Like she said, the end of the story is that you still have to sell yourself.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: Nobody’s going to give you $10,000 for a course, and they don’t know you. The classes and making that conversion is everything, and that’s why we always like to see who we’re dealing with. We like to have those classes beforehand so we can weed out the strong ones versus the weak ones. If you don’t really have it, we don’t want much to do with people like that. We don’t want to waste your time or hours, or your dollars. It’s come to a point now where it’s about money. I’m not going to say it’s not. But at this point, it’s really about the product of the people, the quality of the persons that are coming in there. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: You really want to help people when you get to a certain level, and you want the people that are like… They’re itching, and they’re there. It only takes us literally 10 minutes, and we can tell.

Jen Morris: To figure that out.

Rob Morris: You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: We can really tell.

Jen Morris: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You know if people are actually going to do it versus like the idea of doing it.

Rob Morris: Yes. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Would you be able to identify what those traits are that you’re able to see? It’s probably a little bit of a sixth sense that you know.

Rob Morris: Oh, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: What are the things, kind of the qualities of people who actually get after it?

Rob Morris: Right away? Showing up on time.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: If you’re late…

Jen Morris: Showing up at all.

Rob Morris: Showing up at all. Lots of questions. I mean, tons of questions.

Jen Morris: Yeah.

Rob Morris: Questions that have nothing to do with the course at all, and I love those questions because that tells me that you’re you already dived into it. You’re waist deep, and there’s something that you’re looking for. I like that because those people, they believe that they have it all, but then you walk them back and you start talking about mindsets and stuff, and they’re like, “Wow, that’s so simple. I never thought about that.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: You know what I mean? What else? Oh, man, just their demeanor, the way they speak, the way they dress, everything. It’s just all… It’s so crazy. It’s the sixth sense.

Jen Morris: Like he said, the asking of the questions. We do a free training class every Thursday evenings. I have Q and A, and that training class is different. I have people literally going on each week, and they get something different out of it. I can tell by the people, like you said, who ask questions, and the people who are sitting there quiet.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Jen Morris: Sometimes it’s like, okay, maybe they’re just soaking it all in. I’ve overwhelmed them a little bit, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Jen Morris: But for me, how I act when I’m seeking mentorship and to learn something new, I want to get in your head as much as you going to allow me before I have to start paying you. I want to get into your head. I want to know not so much the step-by-step, because I can pay you to teach me that, but I want to know how you’ve overcome certain obstacles. I love when people ask me that. “Well, what happened when this, and what happened when that?” I can tell they’ve went out and tried it on their own, and it’s not working, so now they’re going to need help, versus like you said, the people, “I just want to open up a storefront.” “Oh, what have you done so far?” “Well, nothing.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right, right.

Jen Morris: “But I’ve been doing this for 10 years, so how do you…” It’s not going to drop into your lap.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right, right.

Rob Morris: It goes both ways, too.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: They’re looking at us the same way. They’re interviewing us, like we’re interviewing them. You know what I mean? If we answer the right questions and say the right things, they’re in. They know they’re good.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. There’s this phrase that I think about. I think her name is Jess Sims. She’s a Peloton instructor. Jess Sims, is that right? She’s awesome. She’s my favorite. She’ll a lot of times have these quotes that she talks about, but one that’s really stuck with me is she talks about this in the middle of a workout. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It sounds a little bit of like what you’re saying is part of what you can suss out in those initial interactions is you know that the quality of somebody showing up on time, that also reflects in somebody’s ability to produce a cake on time for an upcoming event. How you do anything is how you do everything.

Rob Morris: That’s right.

Bjork Ostrom: If somebody’s loose in those areas, you know from doing it for 12, 14, 15 years, that you have to be tight in all those areas. I just think that’s interesting to observe that.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to know some success stories. People you’ve worked with. I know it’s kind of early stages, but it’s always inspiring for people to hear the transformation that somebody goes through. Really, I think when we’re educating people, what we’re doing is we’re providing a transformation. You are here, and you want to be here. We’re going to help you get there in the most efficient way possible. Do you have any stories of people who, even if it’s taking their first step, maybe opening a store, any stories of people who have gone through that transformation and what impact that’s potentially had for them, if you know?

Jen Morris: Yeah, absolutely. We had our very first cohort, and it was so exciting. We had a lady and she was at her wits end. She was one that was like 11 years as a baker, as a side hustle, a part-time baker. She was a corporate accountant. She told her husband, she said, “If it doesn’t happen this year, if I do not get my store this year, maybe it’s not for me.” Then she happened to see my ad on Facebook. At that time we weren’t doing our free classes. We were doing our calls. She hopped on a call with me, and then we let her know how we can help her make that transformation. She enrolled into the program.

Jen Morris: Five months later, she went through everything. This is one of the things that Rob was talking about. We knew exactly that she’s going to be the one, but we were just still so excited that she did it so quickly. She literally went through every single lesson that we took good time in putting together, that many people do not follow to the T.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Jen Morris: But if you do, this is the result that you will get.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Jen Morris: She went on every single coaching call, asked all the right questions, but most importantly, she did the work.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: She did. You can go on and watch everything. I tell people don’t think that you’re going to fly past this, binge it all in one weekend, and think you’re going to get a store, because you have to do the work. If you do the work, we got your back. If you’re willing to go all in, we go all in for you. We over deliver so much because this is something that we believe in and love, and know that our bakery business, cake, cupcakes, brownies, cookies will change your life.

Jen Morris: That’s what she did. She did the work. She asked all the right questions, and five months later she came back and she said, I just signed my lease on my new store. COVID hit.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: That’s when COVID hit.

Rob Morris: Yeah.

Jen Morris: But she still pushed through/ once the orders, the shelter in place was lifted, she was ready. She was one foot out the door, and as soon as that was lifted, a few weeks later she had her grand opening on my birthday actually, June 29, 2020.

Rob Morris: She and her husband, right? Her husband…

Jen Morris: Well, not yet. It was just her. Her husband was still working in manufacturing, and she was so busy. She did not think that she was going to be as busy as she was because COVID, and she’s new, but because of the marketing strategies, everything that we helped her set up, I mean, in and out, in and out, in and out. She was so busy, so that is when about six months later, she hired her husband. He quit his job. Hired him to work in the family business. So, that right there…

Jen Morris: I mean, there’s more after that. We’ve helped people open. Right around the corner from us-

Rob Morris: And we’re in New Jersey.

Jen Morris: … which is exciting because I’m in there all the time and she pretty much got her tuition back, because I’m in there all the time. Just to see people go through literally home baker, resigning from their 9–5 job, something that they’ve had for years, that they worked hard to get to, and then open up a real, legit store with real, legit customers, and making real, legit money, and changing their real, legit life.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: Something that we put together. I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t explain it. It’s unexplainable, but it’s an amazing… It’s rewarding.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Lindsay and I talk about this idea of types of income. I think the one that we talk a lot about, just because this is the most tangible, is financial income, but there’s also other types of income that we get from the work that we do, like inspirational income, or impact income. If you have a job that’s void of impact income and it’s just financial income, that will only get you so far. You have to have all of these different kind of spokes. It sounds like that’s an important one for you guys, which is like-

Rob Morris: Very important.

Bjork Ostrom: You have a successful business helping people, but it’s also really important for you to see those people have success and to see their lives changed, and that being equally, or also significant, in terms of the reason why you do what you do.

Jen Morris: I’ll be honest. He has to remind me that we have bills to pay and kids to raise. I would literally do this for free every day because I know what we put into Cupcakeology bakery, and I know what we received out of it. I just know that’s something that is really game changing and life changing for people. He’s like, “Yeah, baby. This is still a business. Okay. If they pay for an hour, you can’t give them two.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right.

Jen Morris: But you’re right, though. You’re right.

Bjork Ostrom: You see how that would be possible. I’m curious to know when in terms of the different types of businesses… You talked about food trucks and retail, it feels like there’s also a shift that’s been, I think COVID accelerated, which is food delivery. I also know there’s ghost kitchens where you can rent a little kitchen and it’s not technically retail, but you could just do delivery. In the world of baking and bakeries, what are the ways that you could… I think signing a lease, it kind of feels like this pivotal awesome. You open your storefront. It looks beautiful, but there’s also maybe ways to kind of step into it that are a little bit more like less risk potentially.

Bjork Ostrom: In the software world, they talk about it as this MVP minimum viable product, something small that’s not capital intensive that can allow you to test the idea. Is there an equivalent like that in the bakery world? What would that look like if somebody wants to experiment with starting their business, but maybe they’re initially hesitant around a lease, but they want to get started? What does that look like, and how do you kind of take your first step into it?

Rob Morris: What I would tell people first of all, is whatever you feel that you’re the most comfortable with, whether it’s a storefront, delivering…

Jen Morris: Farmer’s markets.

Rob Morris: Farmer’s market. Whatever you feel that you’re the most comfortable with, then go that route. Whether it’s a lease, you got to sign or it’s a truck you got to buy, because it doesn’t matter where you are doing your business at or what type of business you’re doing. That same expense is going to exist. It’s just going to exist somewhere else. People will always tell people that it’s easier to start up, just start with Uber. Get a car and start rolling or whatever, but they don’t talk about the insurance. They don’t talk about the taxes that you have to pay, the self-insurance tax, the self-employed taxes. It’s so many hidden costs that people don’t talk about so whatever it is you want to do, it’s going to be the same amount of money that you’re going to spend out. It’s just going to be somewhere else.

Rob Morris: Like us, the bulk of our money was with food. It’s no longer with buying ingredients and food anymore. It’s advertising. Whether we were doing… We could open up the store again tomorrow. We would just shift the expenses. We try to tell people whatever you’re comfortable with, do that, and then once you get that up and running and now you’re ready to expand, then we can talk about different scenarios. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yep. Yep. Could you do… I would imagine it would be cheaper to let’s say, just do something from your house.

Rob Morris: Oh, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think of this woman, who’s from our hometown, small hometown, but she’s this incredible artist and she does Christmas cookies. I think it’s almost exclusively, but maybe does it for birthdays as well? I don’t know, but I would assume she just does it from her house, which I think would be pretty low cost. This is getting into the weeds a little bit.

Rob Morris: I like these kind of questions.

Bjork Ostrom: My guess is you have to get certain licensing in order to do that from your house. The follow-up question that would be, if you wanted to do delivery, my guess is you would have to have a ghost kitchen or a retail location if you were going to do like Uber delivery or DoorDash. This is the first time I’ve ever thought of this, but you probably couldn’t have a Door Dash driver come to your house to deliver cookies, but maybe you could? I don’t know.

Jen Morris: You probably could. They have… It’s different levels. We teach… You said MVP, but we coined a term called MVM, minimum viable materials.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. That’s great.

Jen Morris: We’re called Start Small Win Big Academy.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Jen Morris: We meet you where you are. If you’re ready for the point of jumping into retail, then we can help you open up that brick and mortar. But if you want to take… I always tell people, because people get stumped because they worry they’re on level A, but then they’re trying to figure out how to get to level Z. There’s so many different steps between level A and level Z. Let’s talk about how to get from level A to level B, or level B to level C.

Jen Morris: That’s the minimum viable material. What do you need minimally to start making money. If that means, if you’re in your store… For instance, we have a student. Oh, my gosh. She was just not really… She had everything in her. She had everything she needed inside. She just needed us to help her pull it out. She was a home baker. We helped her get to level B, which is this is your job. This is your salary. You told me that your goal is to replace your salary with your business, but yet you’re not ready for the overhead of retail. Fine. Then here are the steps you need to take.

Jen Morris: We helped her take those steps from A to B, where she did Farmer’s Markets, and did you catering of different things out of her home. We helped her get legitimized in her home, where she’s got her license, her LLC, all those things she set up so she can run a legit business. Then we helped her go from… Okay, she did one thing and that took a piece out of her salary, and then another, and another, and another, and next thing you know, she’s like, “I can confidently quit my job now.”

Jen Morris: But she still doesn’t have a storefront. Now she’s working on the storefront level because she’s busted at the seams. She’s busting out of her house now. We’ll help you get to the point of where you have no choice, but to take that next step. Then when you feel like you have that choice, or when you feel like you’re at that point, you’re like, “Okay, now I can see it.” Whereas if you’re at level A and you’re even trying to get to D, you can’t see that because there’s so many different things between that.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. It literally is in the name, Start Small…

Jen Morris: It is.

Rob Morris: It is.

Bjork Ostrom: … Win Big. I think that’s such a great… I think the hard part is a lot of us want to start big, win big. We all know that so much of where we are now is due to showing up every day and going from A to B, or taking… Even if it’s not getting to B, it’s taking a couple steps towards B, each and every day. Eventually, you get to B and then it’s like, great, you do it again, and again, and again. It’s the culmination of years of that, that eventually get to the point where you can say, “Great, now I’m going to,” in the case of this person, “get a retail store.” It feels confident.

Rob Morris: I’ve got a story for that. Not to stop you.

Bjork Ostrom: No, that’s great.

Rob Morris: I got a good story for that. We had a student. She came through the course. Flew through everything. The little stuff was too small for her. She had the money and the finances to do what she wanted to do it big. We let her do what she wanted to do the way she wanted to do it. We’re not your parents, but we can’t give you great advice. We got her to open up her store. She did everything she wanted to do. About a month later, she’s back knocking at the doorstep. We’re like, “Well, what’s the problem? You got the store. You’re good to go and everything.” The problem was she never realized or felt what it was like to make $5000.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: Then $10,000, then bump it up some more, then bump it up some more. She started big, and she didn’t know how to advertise to people like that, didn’t know how to hire employees, didn’t have the mindset of the smallness first before she got to the bigness. That’s one of the main caveats that we have with people. They don’t want to start small. It’s okay to start big if you have the experience, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Rob Morris: And you’ve been working for a couple years on doing what it is that you want to do. Like you said, the young lady who wants to start selling cookies in the house. You get a cottage license, or whatever it may be in that state. She feels so good because she sold $5000 worth of cookies in her house. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: That feeling is great. Now she knows what it is to make that $5000. She doubles that, then she triples it. That next year she’s making $50,000. She’s ready to get out of the house. She knows the steps. That’s what the Start Small Win Big Academy is about. It’s literally about starting small and winning big, but there’s also some people that come in and they already did that, and we can tell.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Rob Morris: We’re able to take them and throw them further, but they always come back because business always changes. Technology evolves. Facebook stops working.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, right.

Rob Morris: Apple puts an end to things. They always come back and they need more ingenuity. You know what I mean? It’s hard to run your business and run ads. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Rob Morris: That’s another part that we do now, and people constantly come back. I have to remind my wife, they’re going to come back. You can’t just focus on the new people. They’re coming back and when they come back, they want your help ASAP. They’re like, “Next month, I need to make another $50,000. This isn’t working for me no more.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. It’s constant evolution. Once you’ve figured it out, you’re having to figure it out again. I think everybody listing can relate in some way, whether it be an algorithm changing, a social media platform starting to… Facebook used to be from an organic perspective. You could publish something on Facebook and you could get thousands of people visiting your site, and then overnight, Facebook changes things. It’s going to turn off a switch. You can’t get organic anymore because they want people to pay. Or now TikTok, to your point, what is it like if you feel like you have to turn the camera on and do a little dance? There’s lots of different ways we use TikTok, but that’s one of the things. It’s like, “Oh, no. Is that the new reality?” Maybe it is, maybe it doesn’t, but just things are always kind of changing and evolving.

Bjork Ostrom: We could cover all the different facets and we could talk for eight hours, but that’s what the academy is about. But for those who are interested, who have maybe heard this and said, “You know what? That is something that’s really interesting to me. I would be interested in starting some type of store where I’m selling goods,” maybe as a compliment to a blog or social media, or as the main thing that they’re doing. How can they connect with you guys? What would be the first step? If we talk about those little steps, starting small, would it be jumping on one of those weekly calls that you do, or what would be the best next step?

Jen Morris: Absolutely. They definitely go to our website. I always drive people there. You can learn about us, read our story, watch some of our interviews. That’s www.cupcakeologypa.com. Then from there, they can come register for that free live class. I have it every Thursday evening, 7:00 PM Eastern, 4:00 PM Pacific. It’s soup to nuts. I mean, the reaction from people at the end, they’re like, “First of all, I was on here. I didn’t know you, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to come on, but now you have me on for three hours, and I don’t want to let you go. I don’t want to leave.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, just want to hang out.

Jen Morris: … training I’ve ever had. Then after that, if they feel like, “Okay, this is someone that I know is going to help me get to from level A to level B, and then eventually all the way up to level Z,” and then they can make that decision to hop on a personal call with me, ane we can talk about the options of joining our program, which we have one on one. It is kind of like a hybrid where you get one-on-one first for a month, and then you move into the group coaching. Or, you can just jump into the group coaching if that’s best for you.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. Rob and Jen, really good to connect again. Really great to hear your story and your constant evolution. It’s inspiring. So thanks for coming on.

Rob Morris: Thank you for having us.

Jen Morris: Thank you so much.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there, Alexa, here. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Thanks for tuning in this week. I wanted to let you know that we actually recently launched something called the member directory. So all Food Blogger Pro members have access to it, and they can access it by going to foodbloggerpro.com/directory. It’s there that you can see and connect with all of your fellow Food Blogger Pro members and industry experts, and those of us on the Food Blogger Pro team. You’ll see different things like social links, and blog links, and bios, and just ways to connect. It’s just such a fun place to go. If you’re looking to kind of build your own community on a social media platform, or just be able to connect with other people and see what they’re up to on their blogs.

Alexa Peduzzi: So again, that URL is food bloggerpro.com/directory. If you are a Food Blogger Pro member, and you’re interested in filling out your profile, you can do that over in the edit profile area of your membership. Then once you fill out that information and you’re kind of exploring the member directory, you can filter by cuisines. So, if you’re blogging about vegan recipes and you want to connect with other vegan bloggers, it’s very easy to do that on the directory. It’s very fun, very cool, and just a really awesome place to connect with one another. So if you’re a member, be sure to check that out at foodbloggerpro.com/directory. If you’re not a member, all good. If you’re interested in joining, you can learn more at foodbloggerpro.com/membership, but otherwise, we’ll see you here on the podcast next time, next Tuesday. Until then, make it a great week.

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