This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 344 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Sara Mohr and Louisa Williams from Real Meals Modified in Part Three of our Blogging with a Full-Time Job series.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Cree Carraway from Cooking With Bliss about how focusing on SEO has led to her earning over $2,000 per month from her blog. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Blogging with a Full-Time Job (Part Three)
Can you believe we’ve reached the last episode in our Blogging with a Full-Time Job series? In this three-part series, we’ve been interviewing a few Food Blogger Pro members about what’s working (and what’s not) when it comes to balancing a full-time job with blogging.
And in this final installment of this series, we’re chatting with Sara Mohr and Louisa Williams! In addition to working full-time as licensed speech pathologists, they also run Real Meals Modified, a food blog featuring dysphagia-friendly recipes.
You’ll hear how they started their blog, how they determined their niche, what it’s like to run a blog with a partner, and how they find time to work on their blog with their busy schedules.
Whether you’re a solo blogger or you run your blog with a partner like Sara and Louisa, we know you’ll have lots of takeaways from this episode!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Sara and Louisa met and started their blog
- What speech pathologists do
- What dysphagia is
- What they find challenging about running a blog together
- How they juggle blogging with their full-time jobs
- What tools they use to run their blog
- Why they’ve been focusing more on short-term goals lately
- What they’ve learned blogging in such a specific niche
- Real Meals Modified
- The IDDSI Framework
- Get Started With Real Meals Modified
- Follow Sara and Louisa on Facebook and Pinterest
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
- Check out the Food Blogger Pro YouTube channel (and subscribe while you’re there!)
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!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: Big thank you to Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com for sponsoring the podcast. Clariti is a TinyBit brand. We kind of operate as sisters, brothers, siblings within the TinyBit infrastructure and Clariti and Food Blogger Pro are sibling sites. So we operate them and run them on a day to day basis, but they also pay to have a spot here on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast to advertise, so a big thank you to Clariti and the team over there for the incredible work that they’ve done and also for partnering with us at Food Blogger Pro. I’ve talked a lot about Clariti recently for anybody who follows along with the podcast. And we thought it would be helpful to feature some other bloggers who are using it. So this is a little clip from Sean, from Vindulge. I’ve had the honor and privilege of connecting with Sean and Mary a couple times over the years. They do really incredible work and he’s going to talk for just a minute on how they use Clariti and some things they appreciate about it.
Sean Martin: This is Sean from Vindulge, one of the world’s largest barbecue and grilling websites. We’re here to talk about how much we love using Clariti. And if nothing else, we love the ability to easily export all the content on our website or a segment and search and pick apart some of the various things we’re trying to work on. It saves me in our team hours of time and segmentation, and we’re searching over 800 pieces of content. We’ve also used it to easily identify and clean up missing all tags so that we can really focus on optimal image search opportunities. We’re also cataloging tasks, so we can prioritize and work on various things around our team. We can have multiple tasks at a time. The new feature about adding labels helps us also work with our sponsored content. That means that we can put all of our sponsored content or various sponsored content under one label, and that we can report back with ease. This has been a great future for us, saved us a ton of time, and we really look forward to future investments.
Bjork Ostrom: All right. Thank you to Sean for talking through that. One of the things I love about Sean’s blurb there is he talks about something that I think not a lot of people are aware of. It’s kind of like the secret menu item on Clariti, and that’s the ability to export to a spreadsheet. So previously for Pinch of Yum, we would do a lot of manual labor to build spreadsheets. Maybe it was our top 20 posts from the past year, and we’d create a little spreadsheet and we’d go into Google Analytics and we’d look there and we’d sort there, or maybe it’s the posts without any comments. And we want to create a spreadsheet on any posts without any comments to see if we can get more engagement on that. There’s more than a hundred, thousands of different ways people might use spreadsheets.
Bjork Ostrom: And what Clariti does is it allows you to filter based on the metrics that it’s pulling in. So it becomes the hub you can filter, and then you can create a spreadsheet on that and do whatever you want with it. So Clariti brings in all sorts of information from WordPress and Google Analytics, and you can sort and order that and export to a spreadsheet. And it sounds like Sean’s doing that is really cool. The other thing he mentioned is labels. And the specific use case he mentioned is the same one that we used for Pinch of Yum, which was making sure that we understand what is sponsored content and what is editorial or for you, it might be lifestyle content and food content. It’s different than category because when you create a category in WordPress that creates a category page, which is more externally focused. This is all internally focused.
Bjork Ostrom: So it labels how you want to organize your stuff. And that’s really important because there’s a lot of different ways, as you get more and more content, that you want to make sure you’re tracking and organizing and lots of different use cases for that. So two cool things that Sean pointed out and appreciate that little blurb. Be sure to check out their site Vindulge as well, and the good work that they’re doing. And thank you to Clariti for sponsoring this episode. You can go to clariti.com/food, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food, if you’re interested in signing up, getting a little demo of how it works, seeing if it’s a good it for your account or for your site, and would love for you to check it out. Let us know if you have any questions and again, it’s clariti.com if you want to learn a little bit more. That’s Clariti with an I. All right, that’s a wrap for this little ad read. Let’s go ahead and jump into today’s episode.
Bjork Ostrom: Hello. Hello. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. This is Bjork Ostrom, and here I am chatting with you, and what a wonderful thing it is. My hope is someday we can connect in person, but until that time we can have this kind of one-way conversation, all-around things that we are interested in, which is growing, building, enjoying the process of creating content online, specifically around food and recipes. That’s what we’re all about here. So if that applies to you, great, and actually related to conversations, we’re starting to have more conversations with the Food Blogger Pro audience over on the Facebook group. So if you go to Facebook and then just search Food Blogger Pro podcast, you’ll be able to see the group that we have as a small but powerful audience of people or online gathering of people having conversations around the things that we’re talking about here on the podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: And we wanted to add a little back and forth for any follow-up questions that you have for people who come on as guests or potentially any questions that you’d have for people who are going to be interviewed on the podcast. That’s what the Facebook group is all about. You’re not going to be overwhelmed with hundreds of posts or random things that will pop up here and there. It’s pretty focused on the podcast, on the guests, and on the topics that we have. So you’ll stay sane when you go there, I promise. And my hope is that you’ll get some little tidbits and nuggets out of it, and that we can open up the conversation a little bit. Speaking of conversations, we have a great conversation with Sara and Louisa today.
Bjork Ostrom: And we’re going to be talking about picking a really specific niche and focusing in on that and the power that goes into that and the hope for this series, it’s our third podcast interview, the Blogging with a Full-time Job series is all around, obviously, talking to people who have a full-time job and learning from them, how they do what they do, the things that they’re learning along the way, and talking to people that are on different parts of their journey. So some people might be earlier, some people might be later. We’ve had some interviews where somebody’s been working on what they’re doing for years and they fine-tuned the process and people who don’t want to leave their full-time job and want to continue to do it and others who are ambitious in the way of this thing becoming their career. There’s all sorts of different people in all sorts of different pursuits. And sometimes we get locked into this idea of here’s exactly how you have to do it.
Bjork Ostrom: And what we wanted for this series was to open that up a little bit, to broaden perspectives, and to have conversations with people who are approaching things from all sorts of different ways and all sorts of different angles. And I think you’ll find that be true with the conversation today with Sara and Louisa. And one of the things that’s great about this is they also talk about their partnership. So not only do they have a shared expertise in what they’re doing, but they also have a partnership where they’re coming together and creating content around that. They talk about how they work as partners, how they’ve kind of come to focus in on this specific niche, some of the benefits of that, and it’s going to be a great interview and I think that you’ll be able to take some tidbits away from it, especially if you’re thinking about partnering with people and thinking about that.
Bjork Ostrom: So let’s jump into the interview with Sara and Louisa. Really excited to do this interview today. We have two guests with us. So I’ve learned when I have guests that I have to address each individually when asking questions or whatnot. So first Sara, I’ll say welcome to the podcast.
Sara Mohr: Hi, thank you, Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And Louisa, welcome to the podcast.
Louisa Williams: Thank you. Happy to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s going to be a fun conversation. One of the things that I’m a excited to talk to you both about is this idea of focusing on a niche and also the impact that you’re having through the work that you’re doing. I think any time that we can think about not only the career around what we’re doing, which a lot of us think like, “Hey, we’re going to create a blog to maybe create side income,” or, “We’re going to build this into full-time career,” which is awesome, but also the reality, the impact that it can have, because the content that you’re producing is in that category. It’s been impactful for people in a real way. And your careers are as well. Before we hit record, I was saying, I benefited from people who followed your career. So that will be our kind of foreshadow into it a little bit and I’ll explain that story, but Sara, do you want to talk a little bit about how the two of you first connected and what it is you do for work?
Sara Mohr: Yeah. So Louisa and I met in graduate school for speech therapy. We were in the same cohort and at that time we had talked about potentially creating kind of a cookbook for people with swallowing disorders. And then we went on and started our careers and didn’t do that. And then last year we sort of came back together. We had both been in the same town still, and then we decided that we’d reach more people with a blog than we would with a cookbook instead. Then we…
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: We came together and started the blog based on that idea that we had in graduate school.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So you talk about swallowing disorder and speech pathology. So the thing that I cued into a little bit there, I saw a speech pathologist when I was in elementary school. I remember walking down the hallway and I just have this extremely fond memory of feeling really special to be able to go down to this room. And he would work with my Rs and Ws, which I don’t know if that was really common, but my parents tell this story of when I was sitting in the backseat as like a little kid having this conversation with another friend of mine who had this same speech impediment. And we were having a conversation and we saw a car. And I wanted to say, “Hey, look at that car.” But instead I said, “Hey, look at that cow.”
Bjork Ostrom: And then he had the same thing and he said, “That’s not a cow. That’s a cow.” And then we had this back and forth for like a minute where we just, “That’s not a cow. That’s a cow.” But anyways, so I have this fond memory of working with a speech pathologist. And what was interesting for me in reading about your story is that one of the areas of expertise or one of the areas that you on is swallowing disorders. There’s an official word for it, but Louisa can you talk a little bit about what that is? And was that something that the two of you knew that you wanted to focus on? It sounds like there’s always kind of an interest in it. How did that come about where you’re like, “Hey, you know what, this is something we want to do?”
Louisa Williams: Yeah. So the fancy word for it is dysphagia, just meaning that somewhere along the line in your mouth to your throat, something’s not connecting and for any myriad of reasons you may have trouble kind of getting that food to where it’s supposed to go. Me, personally, coming into grad school, I had no idea really what track I wanted to take. But kind of going into the dysplasia course, I was really interested and kind of halfway through, I was like, “This is something… I’m really passionate about cooking. This kind of makes sense to me that there’s nothing out here. ” It just made me sad this whole time about how these people are dealing with this. And there’s no resources for them.
Louisa Williams: So yeah, kind of Sara and I got to talking about it and we just kind of figured that we could go into that. But like I said, I really didn’t know much about dysplasia. And I think it’s really uncommon for people to know that speech pathologists work with dysphagia. Because when you think about a speech pathologist, you think about exactly what you just said, that we spend our days kind working on the R sound and personally, that’s what I do. So that really resonated with me. I spend a lot time doing that, but Sara probably spends way more time actually hands-on with the actual dysphagia.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. So you have this idea, you talk about doing a cookbook and then have this realization, “You know what? We might be able to reach more people if we’re publishing to a blog.” What I love about that is this mindset of impact, right? So how can we help more people with this thing? Especially seeing that there aren’t a lot of opportunities or there aren’t a lot of resource is available for families or individuals who are looking to discover recipes that are modified. My guess is it’s modifying them, making them easier to consume and swallow. Is that the basic idea?
Sara Mohr: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And Sara, can you talk more specifically about that? It sounds like there’s even levels where it sounds like…? I didn’t look deep enough to know, but level five would be more texture, whereas level one would be less.
Sara Mohr: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: What is that like? And fill us in on this world of dysphagia.
Sara Mohr: So the different levels, the setup we use is under IDDSI, the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative. So every hospital used to, they had their own levels, right? So one of the places I worked was like mechanical soft, ground puree, those sorts of levels. But those aren’t standardized between facilities. So when someone moves from the hospital to their rehab facility, we might know what level they should be on, but that doesn’t match with one at our facility or something to that standard.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: And so IDDSI went out back many years ago now and they set seven levels from zero to seven. And it’s a continuum. There are images. It’s two triangles that overlap. So the liquids are from levels zero to four, from thin like water all the way up to extremely thick, which would be like pudding, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: And you could have a liquid any of those four levels. And then the solids go from three to seven with three being like, thinking about like a thicker soup and then seven being something like taffy, something really hard to eat, right? And so usually when people are put on a diet, they’re put on a liquids level and a solids level. And so this is great, right? Because if you go between facilities, If we send someone back to the hospital, we say they’ve been on level five, the hospital knows what level five is, where they might not have known what advanced solids would be, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Right.
Sara Mohr: But the difficulty being that there’s not a lot of information out there yet for the person who goes home. When you go home, what is mixed and moist?
Bjork Ostrom: Totally agree. On your menu when you’re ordering at the hospital, it’s like you call in, they would probably in some ways filter for you where you’d be like, “I want a hamburger,” and they’d be like, “Sorry, you can have pudding, but you can’t have a hamburger. You could have a-”
Sara Mohr: Or get a blended hamburger.
Bjork Ostrom: “Flavored pudding, but you can’t have a hamburger.” So these filters exist for you. And then you go home and you think, “I want a hamburger,” and you can eat it, right? So how do hospitals help people transition? And it sounds like maybe there’s not a lot of resources out there for people who are transitioning back and is part of the plan for what you’re building to be kind of that bridge, Louisa? So when you think of the content you’re creating, you’re building it in a way where somebody could leave and they have that three-page printout and it’s like, “Here’s all the things you know in order to be successful after this surgery or diagnosis,” or whatever it might be. And it says, “You can do level three solids and level two liquids.” And then you’re like, “Okay, what does that mean? And where do I get these?” So you’re building out a platform, a blog, content that allows people to quickly go and say, “Great. I know I need to go here for this thing.” Is that generally accurate in terms of what you’re building?
Louisa Williams: Yeah. You know we have a handout that kind of explains a little bit about what IDDSI is and then how we can help. I think we would love to go that route, honestly. I think there’s such an in for it. Like we’ve been saying this whole time, just nothing exists at this point in time. And like Sara working in the medical field, I think, and I have too as well, I think we have a really good idea of what it’s like to kind of be sending these people home because, so frequently, at least for me when I was working outpatient, you kind of saw a lot of repeat offenders, people who would…
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Louisa Williams: Go home and they would go home on this diet that we recommended. When you think about people not swallowing, you’re like, “Oh, whatever, no big deal.” But when stuff isn’t going down the right way, it’s going into your lungs likely. It’s sitting there and it’s not doing good things. So then you have those people who come back to the hospital and again, it’s like this cyclical thing, where you’re recommending something, you’re not providing them with the resources and then, “Oh, look, who’s back.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, right.
Louisa Williams: And it’s just kind of like where can we help, where can we stop that process from happening? Because I don’t know about you, but I found that all the time when… We had people who were like, “How long have you had this swallowing problem?” “Oh, maybe 10 years or so.” And they’re just seeking help at this point.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Oh, interesting. And probably hard for you hearing that when you know, “Hey, there are things that you could do to help move you through this. So you wouldn’t have to struggle in a lot of ways for 10 years.” So you have this idea, you come together and say, “Hey, generally speaking, this is the direction that we want to go.” What do those first steps look like Sara? To not only move forward with creating a blog, which that in and of itself is hard. You have to learn these things. You have to take these things on, but also doing so together. You have to divide responsibilities, you have to talk through things, you have to figure out when you want to meet. What was that like to navigate the partnership, and also just the actual process of creating the site in the early stages?
Sara Mohr: I think that’s been something that we’ve definitely, I’d say, fine-tuned, but probably more like medium-tuned as we go along.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: We live in the same town. We live in Tucson, but right now we live on different sides of town. And so when we started, I lived a little bit closer, so it was easier to do in-person meetings. And we started during COVID. So we weren’t doing anything else. So that was easier to have more time to work on these themes. And we started definitely with a divide and conquer approach, right? So I do most of the backend on the blog, getting things set up that way, and then Louisa does a lot more of the photography and those sort of pieces, but then we both develop recipes. And so that’s been an issue that we’ve had, is if Louisa’s got all of this photography knowledge, and now I’m at my house taking pictures, something that looks terrible because a lot of our food does look kind of sad and bummed out.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s one of the interesting challenges. Like as an example, soups are really hard to document and to take pictures of, and my guess is a lot of the content that you’re creating is in that category of content.
Sara Mohr: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s not like a one-foot sandwich with a bunch of these layers on it. You’re going to have to be creative with it.
Sara Mohr: Yeah. There’s nothing like garnishes, right? Because none of that would be allowed. Everything has to be one level. And so everything is just kind the same. So I take a lot of pictures and I send them to Louisa and Louisa’s like, “Don’t do that. Drive to my house and give me the bowl of food. We’ll go from there.”
Bjork Ostrom: Across town, yeah.
Sara Mohr: Yeah. So that’s been something that I think we’re getting better at. I finally got a new phone now, so I can take slightly better pictures. So we’re working on getting setups in each of the locations. So that way, even though we’ve still got our specialties, then we’re each taking on more of what the other person was doing before.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. One of the things that we’re doing, so we’re doing this little miniseries talking about blogging with a full-time job, obviously when you started, it was COVID. Everybody’s world looked a little bit different. Maybe had more time with it. And then slowly for most people, it’s kind of inching back towards normal or new normal or whatever you want to call it. What does that look like for you now, Louisa? And then Sara, I’d be interested to hear your response in regards to figuring out ways to continue the momentum with your site while also acknowledging you have work that you’re doing and full-time commitments. That’s a hard thing to do, to find ways to do both of those things. So what have you found that’s worked well for you in regards to keeping your site up, keeping it going, but also acknowledging like, “Hey, you have a full-time gig that you are responsible for?”
Louisa Williams: Yeah. It is a big challenge. I mean, I don’t think either of us are going to sit here and say we do it perfectly because we certainly don’t. I do think that having someone that runs the blog with me is super helpful. Just even having a meeting with Sara is often rejuvenating for both of us that finds a little bit more motivation. I work full-time in a school. I also help with the afterschool program. So a lot of days I get to work at seven in the morning. I may getting home at 5:30. By the time I make dinner, put it on the table, clean up, I’m exhausted.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Louisa Williams: And then at the same time, it’s also a balance between not only do I want to work on the blog in all my free time, but I also want to have free time because our jobs, we’re frequently understaffed, just SLPs in general. There’s often not enough of us. So it’s just a lot of work and I need a lot of time to just kind of sit and reflect on a day.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Louisa Williams: So I will say that at this point, the biggest thing is just meeting with Sara, talking about those things, and then also just having conversations like this. I feel like anytime I tell someone about our blog, they’re like, “Oh, I had a friend who had a stroke who then also wasn’t able to eat foods for a while.” And just hearing stories like that are often so motivating. It’s like, “Okay, you know what? There are so many people out here who could benefit from this. I need to really kind of drive forward and start working on it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things I think about occasionally, but should think about more is the why behind the work that I’m doing. And I think whenever we can have a really strong why, and it’s going to be different for everybody, some it might be impact-based, some it might be personal freedom, for some people it might be spending time with their family, but really clearly defining the why and visualizing that is so impactful. And I hear you talking about that. How about you, Sara? As you think about balancing the work that you’re doing as a creator, publisher, learning this, as you’re getting up and running, what have you found to work and what are the things that have been super helpful? And then maybe on the opposite side of that, what are the things that are just the challenge and have been difficult?
Sara Mohr: So I work PRN. I don’t work full-time. I work at least 30 hours a week, but they can cut me down if we’ve got more staff, so that doesn’t happen anymore. And so usually I’m working 30 to 40 hours a week, but I don’t know my schedule until the night before. So like last night they told me I’m coming in at 9:00 AM, but who knows when I’m coming in tomorrow? I’ll be in, but I don’t know what time. And so that’s definitely been a challenge for me with trying to schedule my day. It’s like I don’t know if I’m going to have time to work on something in the morning or if I’m going to have time in the afternoon. Because then we also have to think I’m seeing patients for that period of time. I also have to do my chart review and I have to write all my notes and talk to all the doctors, anything else I need to do then if that runs into something I’ve scheduled, then what happens something that I’ve scheduled?
Sara Mohr: So that’s something that has been a challenge for me, but I think in the same vein as Louisa, I get a lot of motivation at work because I’m working with the patients that we’re going to be sending home. And then just today I talked to a husband of one of the patients and he was like, “So what do we do when we get home?” I’m like, “Well, thank goodness you asked because I know what I can tell you to do now.” Because you know there used to be, and there still are some cookbooks out there, but unless you know to buy them, what are you going to eat for the three days until it arrives?
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Sara Mohr: And so I get a lot of motivation out of talking to my patients. I talk to them about what do they want to eat? What do they miss? And then we can work on developing those types of recipes. But I think for me, the flexible schedule is nice, but then it also becomes a problem for scheduling even when we’re going to meet.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Yeah. Because what an interesting role. It kind of reminds me of there’s a season where, very different, but from a scheduling perspective, similar where Lindsay was substitute teaching and she would call the morning of, and it’d be like, “Okay, what time is it going to happen? What time am I going in?” And just this idea of you kind of know your schedule, but not really. And my guess is you would be able to take a day off and say, “Okay, I’m not coming in this day.”
Sara Mohr: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: But if you are technically on, then it’s almost like being on call, like, “Hey, here’s when you’d come in. Here’s when you wouldn’t,” which makes it to your point really hard to schedule. Are there any tools or software that you’ve used that have been helpful from a partnership perspective? Do you find that you’re texting a lot? Is it email? What does that look like as you partner on things for communication?
Sara Mohr: We started out with Asana. So we started with that to kind schedule each of the tiny parts of the task because that’s something that surprised me when we started blogging was like, “Oh, I’ve got this wonderful recipe. I’ll just turn it into a blog post.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Sara Mohr: But there’s all these tiny little parts that’s like when did this happen, right? And so we were using Asana to kind of keep track of where we were in each recipe. But then for me, I don’t get on my computer every day because I work in-person. So if I’m not on computer and I’m not looking at the Asana, then I’m not doing anything. So a lot of what I’m doing is texting Louisa and telling her what I’m working on, sending her screenshots of texts or screenshots of ideas, things like that, which maybe isn’t the best system.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like whatever… What was that, Louisa?
Louisa Williams: I said lots of audio messages, just constantly talking into our phone, telling each other.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally. We were working with a sleep consultant. So another vital type of consultant and they used Voxer, which is a great little back and forth voice app. It’s essentially the iOS and you can hit it and record a little voice message and shoot it off to somebody which is great when you’re on the go or driving or whatever. But Voxer is great for just purely for voice text and voice messages back and forth. So, as you think about the moving forward is your hope, and part of this comes out of some conversations that we’ve had just in general, but also in the series where people are like, “You know what? I love what I’m doing and I don’t really have a super strong interest in transitioning this site into my full-time gig.”
Bjork Ostrom: It being early, like it would be early in the conversation to start thinking about that, but do you have thoughts on, “Hey, this would be great if we could build this into something and then this is what we’re doing full-time,” or do you like the idea of having it as something that is available for those days maybe Sara where you don’t get called in or to have something to be able to work on and focus? But where do you land when you think about the future of it or is it still too early to know? Louisa, do you have thoughts on that?
Louisa Williams: I mean, when we talked about it initially, I think the goal was if we can make enough and this could be our job, that would be amazing. I think, Sara is immensely creative. She constantly is coming up with ideas for products and things. And we’re just like, “I have no idea how to make any of that happen.” But in reality, if we could even come up with half of the things that we have ideas for, I think it could be very successful. I will say for me, I find a lot of reward in being an SLP, but at the same time, it is a career that is just burnout city.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Why is that?
Louisa Williams: I can talk from the school SLP perspective because I will die on a hill that school SLPs are super, super overworked.
Bjork Ostrom: And SLP stands for a speech and language pathologist?
Louisa Williams: Yes. Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Louisa Williams: So yeah, for me personally, I work with currently 64 kids. So I have to see all of those kids either once or twice a week. The amount of paperwork is just immense. Like for Sara, I always say I worked medical. The best thing about it is that at the end of the day you’re done, right? You sign up, you don’t think about it until the next morning, but for me personally, I am at least a week behind on everything that I need to do. So for me, sometimes it’s hard to come home and just be like, “Okay, I’m done until tomorrow.” It’s like I’m just constantly worrying about the things that I have going on.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Louisa Williams: And just SLPs in general, it’s a very small program typically. It’s very competitive. So for the University of Arizona where we went to grad school, they get something crazy like 500 applications and our class was 27, so it’s very competitive. And then it’s like, “Wow, there’s not enough SLPs.” And it’s like, “Wow, there’s just not a ton of spots in grad school for us.” So it’s just kind that, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting just in regards to burnout, one of the things that exists as a statistic, I don’t know where this came from or how true it was even, but I worked for a nonprofit and they talked about teaching and they talked about teachers and I think the statistic, this is going to be me, like 80% of statistics are made up on the spot, but it was like 60% of teachers quit by the fifth year.
Louisa Williams: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And I don’t know what it would be for an SLP, but it feels like maybe potentially a similar thing where you’re excited about it, you get into it, you want to make an impact, and the weight of the work is just so heavy that you just get burnt out and it’s like you like the work. It’s not like you don’t like it, but it’s just not sustainable. And one of the things I’ve heard people talk about, and I think it’s really true, especially in the category of people who are working a full-time position but then also have a side hustle that they’re doing the weekends, maybe it’s nights, just whenever they can, is there’s some level of a safety net that exists that you can fall back on this thing not as a full-time career always, right?
Bjork Ostrom: A lot of times it still is the side hustle, but I know a lot of people who have gotten the ball rolling slowly with their thing behind the scenes and they have some life event, maybe their kids get sick or their parents get sick or they get completely burnt out or they have a health diagnosis and that results in them not being able to do their full-time career, but they’ve gotten the ball rolling with this thing far enough where it’s not starting from zero and it’s not going a hundred miles an hour, but it’s like, “Hey, there’s a little bit of momentum with this thing.” And that life event switch allows them to have a little bit more brain space to focus on it. And that’s one of the things I heard you saying was there really is no brain space a lot of times for you because you could always be doing more. So I’m curious to know Louisa, how do you make time and space for that when you could always be doing more for your job?
Louisa Williams: That’s a good question. You mean making time and space for the blog?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think a comparable in my world would be, it’s different, but just for this sake of an analogy, I always have something that I could do. There’s always an email in my inbox. There’s always some optimization thing that I could do. And so if I’m going to organize my basement, the storage area, I’m just going to have to say, “You know what? I’m not going to do work stuff because I need to get this stuff done.” I think that same mindset can exist for people who are working on their blogs as a side hustle, which is, there’s always something that you could be doing for your full-time career or gig or just at home. And so what’s the mental framework that you use in order to prioritize writing content or working on your blog or building your business while there’s always something else you could be doing?
Louisa Williams: Yeah. So for me, a lot of school SLPs work outside of school, because there’s the amount of work where you kind of should and almost need to, but for me, it’s like as much as I think about it when I’m at home, I really try to step away from my job when I’m at home. I really hardly ever bring my computer home, even though I need to. I probably should.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Louisa Williams: I’m just not going to do it, right? I’m just that classic millennial. I don’t get paid enough to do this. I don’t get paid enough to bring this stuff home with me and then work on it at home. And I’m also like the classic millennial in the sense that I need time for me and I’m going to take that time because my mental health is important. So for me, I find very therapeutic and I find it really enjoyable, so I think that there are so many times where I’m making something and I’m like, “This would be perfect for the blog.” And then I’m just almost too lazy to take a picture of it or to write a recipe for it. So I think Sara and I have had this conversation, but just kind of giving ourselves this space to if we have the desire and the time to work on it, then do it. That’s great. But if there’s no time, then it is what it’s.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Louisa Williams: Like me personally, since pretty much October, I’ve been checked out, just super busy with work, but as a school SLP, I also get loads of breaks. So I’m hoping this summer, when I’m off for two months, that I can really take some time and kind of dive into the blog just because I know that during the school year it is not my first priority. There’s not enough time in the day for all of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that there’s a really interesting takeaway there in that sometimes we just don’t have capacity to do the things at the level we potentially want to do them. It was one of the super early podcast interview we did. And I don’t remember even who it was with, but she talked about this idea of time blocking and saying, “What are all the things that you want to do in a day? What are all the things that you consider to be important?” Things that are set, like those would be work, maybe it’s getting food ready for dinner or family or whatever it might be, working out, all of these things, and then just putting those in your calendar and saying, “How much time do I actually have to do the thing that I want to do?”
Bjork Ostrom: And it might not be a lot of time when it comes down to it. And the reality is what we’re doing, creating content, takes a lot of time and energy, but to your point, sometimes you can figure out ways to slot it in and it’s like maybe you’re making a meal and you’re like, “This would be great for the blog, documenting that and publishing that.” Sara, what have you found in terms of figuring out ways to fit this in with your schedule, knowing it’s a little bit abnormal, knowing that you can’t necessarily schedule something for the next day when you might be working at three and you don’t know, so what’s worked well for you in regards to scheduling and moving the site forward while also making sure that you are prioritizing work and then have time for yourself as well?
Sara Mohr: I think for me, the biggest change I made recently was doing more of the recipe development just as the meal we’re going to eat. I think one of the things that Louisa and I run into more than regular food bloggers is sometimes I have an idea for a food and it just is disgusting.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: Right? And I think other people don’t run into that as much because they’re not trying to blend a steak.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right.
Sara Mohr: Sorry, it was gross, everyone but I’ve been doing more of that and then trying to pawn food off onto people too, right? I made six batches of this potato salad. Here, everyone gets one instead of me making it six weeks in a row. So that’s made a big difference in just getting more content done. And then as well I’ve been trying to watch more videos and do more courses that can help me get more just manageable steps because I’m thinking about a task and then I don’t have the knowledge to break it down yet. So I’m thinking, “I’m going to do this and it’s going to take me two hours. I don’t have two hours. I’m going to do nothing.” But then now as I get more knowledgeable, we do more of it. It’s like, “Okay, well inside of this two-hour task is three 15 minute tasks and then a big task. So I’m going to do one of those three tasks in this 15 minutes.” So it’s giving me permission to work less at a time.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: Right? And that’s made a big difference.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of something that you’ve broken down in that way?
Sara Mohr: So I did… What did I do last night? Oh, last night, the only task I did was creating a post template for us. Up until now, we’ve just been completely revamping each post, wasting so much time making the same headings every post. And so usually I would sit down, I would say, “Okay, I’m going to make the post template. And at the same time, I’m going to make another post, it’s going to be the template’s going to be based off of. And then I’m going to write a Google doc about how to use the post template so I don’t have to meet with Louisa.” And it’s this whole big task, but instead I was just like, “I’m just going to make the post template.” And then I sent Louisa an audio message of how to use it instead of making a whole additional document. So then that way, I booked an hour and a half for this task and it only took me 30 minutes. Because I expected it to take longer, I put off doing it when I could have done it earlier in the week.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting. I feel like there’s a lot of tasks that are like that. So one time I was going to fix the water faucet outside and I put it off for like three months and it took like seven minutes. It was like, “Oh, I could have just done this in my slippers before I had breakfast in the morning.” And I oftentimes it feels like that’s true for a lot of those things. And my guess is not only did it take less time, but because it was something process-related, it’s going to allow you to spend less time moving forward on all the other things.
Sara Mohr: Definitely.
Bjork Ostrom: Who’s a system called EOS and in EOS, they talk about the importance of documenting everything and documenting it not in a way where it’s super specific and every little step is clearly outlined. But like Hey, we’re going to be working with smart people. We are smart people. Next time that we come up to something we’re like, “Wait, how do you do that?” We can pull up this process. We can look through it real quick and we can be like, “Oh yeah, that’s what we do.” But it’s kind of hard because it doesn’t feel like work that’s moving something forward. It feels like a different type of work that you’re not actually technically getting something done. You’re just making it easier to get things done in the future. But do you find that you’re starting to think about documenting and creating light processes and breaking out tasks into smaller subtasks and things like that, is that part of the way that you’re thinking in regards to the work that you’re doing?
Sara Mohr: I think so. I think one of the things that we should have noticed earlier was that a lot of what we did at the beginning in our planning stages, like before we started the blog, was we wrote a lot of what I would now call long-term goals. What do we want to do in a year? What do we want to do in a month? When we really should have been focusing on our two-week goals.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Sara Mohr: And so now we’ve done more with these short-term goals, it makes more sense to figure out what each thing I’m doing, how is working towards that shorter goal, where it was sometimes harder to see with the really big view goals, right? And so that’s something I think has switched in our mindsets as we think about how do we keep this long-term? Because some of our long-term goals we met, some of them we didn’t, but then each short-term goal we can then have more data to revise the next goal, right?
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Sara Mohr: So everything we do in our therapy is goal-based, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Interesting.
Sara Mohr: We have to bill for it. It’s got to be towards a goal or I can’t… Well, I have to think about what’s my time worth. If I was at work and I was doing this, is that worth so many dollars an hour? No. So that’s maybe not worth my time right now unless I am taking a break, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. One of the things that’s great about that, and I’d be interested to hear if this exists within your practice doing therapy, but so you set a goal, so like we want Bjork to be able to say, “I see a cow and a car,” and people that understand what that means. And so breaking that down into micro goals in order to achieve that goal, is that Louisa, like when you’re working with a student in school, is that what you’re doing?
Louisa Williams: Yes. I think in grad school that was one of the things we talked about a lot, was like how to write a long-term goal and then how to write a short-term goal how to get there. So taking your example of the R, the ultimate goal is that these kids are going to say the R sound in conversation in any setting with anyone that they’re talking to. First step, can they even produce that sound by itself?
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Louisa Williams: Okay, great. We spent three months just trying to get them to say that sound. Can they now say it in a short word? Okay, great. Can they now say it in a sentence? So I think we’re kind of trained, like Sara was saying, that is ingrained in us as what our practice is, to kind of make tiny steps along the way. And like kind of what she was saying, just up until recently, I don’t know why we were more focused on the long-term and not just on what do we want to do in the next two weeks? So last time we met, we talked about pretty much up until the end of February, how many things we want to have done between and then because we’ll maybe only meet twice, so yeah. It’s been helpful.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. And I see that really playing out when I think about, a really easy example would be somebody might set a traffic goal, right? I want to be at, whatever it might be, a 100,000 page views by the end of 2023. Okay, cool. We can say that, but what does that look like then to break that down on a month by month basis and say, “In order to do that, I’ll need to grow 10% a month from where I am right now,” and then saying each month, “Have you hit that goal? And if not, what are you going to do to adjust and change that?” And so, Great. We’re a little bit behind. I said that I set this goal. I’m not going to just think it into existence, but I actually have to plan in order to achieve that.
Bjork Ostrom: And part of that planning is starting early and saying, “What do I need to do in order to make that happen?” And there’s a lot of little steps along the way that have to go into it. I’m curious to hear, knowing that you have had some time doing this and have maybe started to develop some opinions, even being early on, what are the things that you’ve learned? Like if you were to go back and sit down with yourself, or the two of you met with the two of you when you first started your site, what would be the conversation that you’d have and the advice that you’d give to your past selves, knowing what you know now? And Sara, we can start with you.
Sara Mohr: I think if I could give past Sara some advice about this, it would be to try to focus more on one thing. We started that pretty early, fairly, but when we first started out, we’re like, “Okay, we’re each going to take two types of social media and we’re each going to do content creation every week. Louisa is going to do more about the photography and I’m going to about how to build a website.” And that was just way too much to do at once. And then we never got better at any of it, right? Because then you’re just treading water trying to figure all those of things out. And so now we’re focusing a lot more down on just doing more content creation and trying to optimize posts in one certain way. We have the social medias that we’ve set up two months in, but I don’t think we’ve touched them since December of 2020. And so our 14 Pinterest followers can enjoy those recipes that we had out at that time.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally.
Sara Mohr: And next year we might have some new ones.
Bjork Ostrom: I think there’s a lot of wisdom in focus. And I think what can often happen is, a very similar thing to what you described, which is people try and do everything and you’re just spread too thin. And even when it comes to social platforms, Hey, once you get good at one, you can introduce another, but don’t try and get good at seven when you’re first starting out and working a full-time job. I think that’s where that time blocking comes in. And it’s like, “Okay, if we want to be good at TikTok, that’ll take at least 10 hours, at the very least to do that really well.
Bjork Ostrom: So where are we going to slot that in?“ And pretty quickly you’re like, ”Well, if I’m also going to create blog content, there probably isn’t a place I can slot that in. So I’m just not going to do it.“ And we’ve done things with our sites where we say, ”Hey, we can’t do that well so we’re just not going to do it.” And later on down the line, we can start to introduce that when we feel like we can do that a little bit better. So Louisa, how about you? If you were to sit down with your past self, what would you say?
Louisa Williams: I think organization and consistency from myself. Like I’m one of those people where it’s kind of like all or nothing. I’m either going to work on the blog nonstop for my entire Christmas break and do as many recipes as I can, or I’m going to feel dread about doing anything. So for me, just allowing myself this space to kind of work on things little by little, and then just being organized with what step is done, how is it done, where is it located, how do I put it all together, and manage that time a little bit. Because before, if I was doing a recipe, I would cook it. I would take pictures, I would write it, and I would post it all in one day and now that’s just not maintainable. So I think just for me, the time management, organization and just saying, “If you only get a recipe every two weeks, that’s great. It’s better than doing two in a week and then taking a month off.” So for me, I think that’s… And I’m even still working towards that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. I was doing a Belltown run this morning and it was this… What was her name? I forget with the coach’s name. Everybody has opinions on different coaches, but she said, “What if instead of being occasionally awesome, you are consistently good?” And I was like, “Oh, that’s really solid advice.” I love that idea of being consistently good as opposed to being occasionally awesome. Whether it’s fitness or business or whatever it might be, continually showing up, it’s what we’re all about. And we talk about that a lot on the podcast. So this has been a really fun conversation. Do you feel like there’s anything that we missed in terms of things you’ve learned, experiences you’ve had? Anything that you’d want to make sure to share with the audience before we hear a little bit more about where folks can follow along with what you’re doing and maybe we could increase your Pinterest following? We could double with this podcast episode.
Sara Mohr: There’ll be nothing new. But you can join. I think one thing that I really learned was how much of a niche were in. Like we knew we were a niche food blog, but I needed to stop thinking about us as a food blog as much as a resource, right? Because I really stress myself out a lot with keyword research and stuff like that. When for us, keyword research is not probably going to get us anywhere.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Sara Mohr: We don’t really want to rank for minced and moist breakfast hash with cucumbers or something. No one is ever going to search for minced and moist in that specific recipe. We really wanted to show up when someone searches minced and moist recipe ideas. We want the whole site to show up and then all of our ideas are there. We are a food blog, but the way that we need to do our optimization is not, I think, the same way that a lot of other food blogs do it. And that’s something I think I didn’t say I wasted time because I learned a lot, so it was worth it, but I think I was not getting anywhere with a lot of what I was doing in the beginning.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I think in the startup world, they talk a lot about TAM, which is total addressable market. So like Uber, what’s the TAM? Well, it’s like anybody who needs to get somewhere, right? So it’s a huge, it’s a billion-dollar total addressable market. Billions, multiple billions. I think one of the things that happens as your total addressable market or your niche gets smaller is the mechanics of monetization change, which is also really exciting because potentially you could be a site where you don’t have to have any ads and instead you have a premium offering or maybe you sell consultations for people to help them build a meal plan. Or maybe it is meal plans that you sell, but higher dollar amount, but for a smaller niche or a smaller group of people, which I think is a really good place to be.
Bjork Ostrom: And there’s less competition potentially. So it’s really cool to see and also something for people to think about. Like Hey, it’s okay to have a small niche. Just know that how the monetization for that is going to look different, as people think about what that might be for them. So Louisa, where can people connect with you, follow along with what you’re up to? We’ll have talked about the site a little bit before in the intro, so people will know, but just can you give a quick plug? And my guess is somebody will be listening who can also use it as a resource as well.
Louisa Williams: They say something like 20% people have dysphagia. So I’m sure that there’s someone out there listening to this. Yes, you can find us on our website, obviously realmealsmodified.com. We do have a Facebook page. It’s also just Real Meals Modified and then on Pinterest as well. Hopefully someday we’ll have an Instagram. I’m much more comfortable with that content, but we just don’t have one yet. Probably never on TikTok, because that sounds horrible.
Bjork Ostrom: You say that and then we’ll have a conversation three years from now and you’ll be like, “Here I am on TikTok.”
Louisa Williams: I know. It could be really cool. Not yet, but yeah, for now check us out there.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. Much like the intro, I’ll say goodbye individually. Sara, thank you for coming on the podcast.
Sara Mohr: Thank you for having us.
Bjork Ostrom: And Louisa, thank you for coming on the podcast.
Louisa Williams: Yeah. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this interview. Thanks to everybody for coming on and listening. Thanks to everybody for listening and thanks to Sara and Louisa for being a part of the interview today. That’s a wrap for this short series that we did, Blogging with a Full-time Job. Let us know what you thought about it. Let us know if there are other series that you might be interested in. If there’s one thing that you wish that we could deep dive on and do multiple podcasts on, what would that be? If you ever have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas, just shoot us an email [email protected]. And we would love to hear from you because we’re always trying to improve and get a tiny bit better every day, forever, as long as we’re doing this, and we’ve been doing this a long time and we’re going to continue to do it because what we’ve found is that one of the best ways to get better at what you’re doing is to show up every day for a long period of time and incrementally get better.
Bjork Ostrom: And we want to help you do that. And one of the ways that we do that is through the podcast. Another way that we do that is through the Food Blogger Pro membership. So we have a lot of Food Blogger Pro members who are a part of the community. And you can check that out by going to foodbloggerpro.com. You don’t have to sign up right away, just sign up for the email list and learn a little bit more. That’s probably the easiest way to get to know who we are and what we’re about. Thanks to you for tuning in, for being a part of this community. We really appreciate it and we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.