148: Pivoting to Find Success with Steph Jones

Welcome to episode 148 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks with Steph Jones from Steph Yoga about realizing there needed to be a change in her career and how she made that change happen.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Danielle Liss from Hashtag Legal and Businessese about understanding GDPR. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Pivoting to Find Success

Sometimes we think we know exactly what we want to be doing in life, only to learn that it’s not as fulfilling as we had hoped.

That’s the exact situation that Steph found herself in when she realized that there needed to be a change. She decided to become a yoga instructor and wanted to take her passions to an online platform.

Fast forward through a lot of work, testing her idea, and building her site, she now has a thriving yoga membership workout site that helps its members transform their health and bodies through yoga. You’ll learn all about how she found her passions and built her business in this interview.

In this episode, Steph shares:

  • What she did before she built her own business
  • How she realized that she needed a change
  • How she became a yoga instructor
  • Why she decided to build a food blog
  • How to craft your ideal day
  • How she beta tested her idea
  • How she launched a waiting list
  • Why a drip campaign was helpful
  • How she knew she was ready to launch
  • Why an open / closed enrollment format works for her

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Bjork Ostrom: In this episode, I talk about 10 mistakes that bloggers make and how to fix them and Steph Jones shares her journey of building a food blog, stopping a food blog, starting a new business, and finding success. Hey everybody, this is Bjork Ostrom and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, which is brought to you by WP Tasty, which you can find at wptasty.com. It is the go-to resource for WordPress plugins for your food blog or if you are interested in upping your Pinterest game for any blog. We have two plugins right now at WP Tasty. One called Tasty Recipes and that is for food bloggers who want to display extremely beautiful recipe cards that also perform well with search engines, and we also have Tasty Pins, which is a great way to optimize your all text and your Pinterest text for your blog on the images for those post that you’re posting.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re not going to dive deep into each one of those plugins because that’s not what the tasty tip is about. The tasty tip is about sharing something that you can apply to your blog to help it improve, to help it grow and to help you build a successful business, which is what we’re going to be talking about with today’s interview with Steph. Before we do that, actually I wanted to share with you one of the resources that Steph talked about using as she was on her journey of building her blog and her website and her eventual business and that is the 10 mistakes that bloggers make and how to fix them e-book. This e-book is something that we put together a couple years ago, but it is still an incredible resource to help you understand and fix some really common mistakes that aren’t that hard to fix, but lots of people make them as they’re building their blog.

Bjork Ostrom: If you want to check that out, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/ebook and that will bring you to page where you can download that e-book and these are all things that were mistakes that we made as we were building our sites and have eventually fixed. There were things that we noticed a lot of people making, a lot of mistakes that were really common and Steph actually talks about that e-book and one of the mistakes that she made. In realizing that mistake, that helped inform some decisions that she was making along the way. I wanted to mention that as a resource for today’s tasty tip. Again, you can get that by going to foodbloggerpro.com/e-book and this is the e-book that Steph talks about in the interview today.

Bjork Ostrom: Let’s go ahead and jump into the interview. Steph is a Food Blogger Pro member. She talks about building a blog and then realizing that wasn’t the greatest fit for her, but then taking some of the things that she had learned along the way both from Food Blogger Pro and other places and spinning that into a new business that fit better with her passion and her interest. She talks about how she went through the process of using some marketing tools to have a successful launch and now has a successful business that she runs in the yoga niche. I think you’re going to be able to take a lot away from this interview, so I’m excited to share it with you. Let’s go ahead and jump in. Steph, welcome to the podcast.

Steph Jones: Hey, thanks for having me on.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m excited to chat with you today because even just in chatting a little bit before the interview started here. It sounds like there’s been some things that you’ve been able to take away from little bits and pieces of the different places where we live online and you’ve been able to apply those. I think that’s the inspiring thing about your journey is that you’ve learned and then applied and we’re going to talk about what those things are that you learned and applied and what the results of those were, and how you got to where you are right now. Before we do that, let’s rewind the tape a little bit and talk about what you’re doing before the stage where you’re interested in building a business online. What did life look like for you?

Steph Jones: Yes. Back, I guess it was now four years ago. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a finance degree and got what I thought at that time was my dream job as a financial analyst, living in Charlotte, North Carolina and I worked there for three years in their securities department working in futures and thought it was a great job, really was able to grow and expand and how to create group of people rooting for me, but ultimately just found the tediousness and the repetitiveness of the job just not to be a fit. Actually, at that time, I would have my spreadsheets on one screen and I would be reading the income reports on the other screen hiding it. Just like really curious and I would say to my co-workers and I was like, “Gosh, how did they make this work? Like this is crazy”, just in the background of my knowing. I wanted to get to a point where I would have my own business. I just didn’t know how that would take shape or form.

Bjork Ostrom: Did you know that always like when you’re going into your dream job as a financial analyst? At that point, did you know that you’re also interested in starting in building your own business?

Steph Jones: No, not at all. I really thought that working at Wells Fargo was like the end goal. I was going to work there until I retired and that was the only place I really wanted to be. You kind of don’t realize like after reading the same emails and just feeling like you’re being told what to do and there was a lot of limitations within the job and staying until eight p.m. and that kind of thing was just not a fit. That was when I really started getting to a point where I was like, “I need to do something else. I need to switch this up.”

Bjork Ostrom: They talk about that with the work that we do and having flexibility in decision making and the freedom to craft your own schedule and make big decisions, and they can see how within certain jobs when that’s removed, how that can be for some people, not for everybody. I think for some people it’s a really good fit, but for somebody who really has a strong desire for that freedom in decision and crafting their day and making those decisions, how that can start to wear on you. What was it like when you started to feel that feeling? How did you respond to that and what were the different avenues that you looked down in order to plan your potential next path?

Steph Jones: Yes. It started out, but I was staying late and I was, “Oh, man! This doesn’t feel like how I want my life to be.” Actually, at that time, my dad passed away and I had this newfound respect on life where I was like, “I am going to go for what I …” Like I want to live my life in a new way and I want to live for this person and I wish it didn’t have to happen in that way, but it was my wake-up call where I was like, “Okay. Life is going to end and I’m going to be sitting at this desk. Dang! Like I didn’t get to impact anyone’s …” I mean, I can impact my people who were there and I felt like I was helping, but I wasn’t doing enough and I felt like I had so much more to give.

Steph Jones: I was really into yoga at that time. I didn’t anticipate getting into a place where I would be teaching it, but I was just starting to develop my spirituality and getting into a place where asking for the universe to give me something that I can impact people’s lives with. I kept thinking like there was more and I kept seeing life like in a way where I could run a business, but I just still didn’t know what it would be. I knew that it would happen. I didn’t know when, how, but I kept just seeing that and then I started reading as much as I could. Any self-development book I could pick up was just guiding me down the right path and I was still confused.

Bjork Ostrom: What do you mean by that confused?

Steph Jones: Just didn’t know where to go. It actually turns out I end up quitting my job at Wells Fargo with nothing else lined up, and I’m in Charlotte in North Carolina at that time and I decide I’m going to move to San Diego. I’ve been there a bunch of times to visit friends and the lifestyle was just a better fit for me and I was like, “If I can be good at a job that I hate, then I bet I could be really good at a job that I love. I’m going to find it.” Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The decision to move to San Diego was also a little bit of a pivot in your life to find something that you truly love knowing that if you find that, when you find that, that you’ll be able to do that even at a higher level than you were at a job that you didn’t enjoy as much. That was the start of that journey?

Steph Jones: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I got it. A couple of things I want to rewind back to. You had mentioned your dad, obviously an extremely significant life event and something that in the moment, but also I think long-term probably causes you to look at the world differently and just want to acknowledge how heavy that is and how hard that is. For those that haven’t experienced the significant event like that knowing that it impacts you and this could maybe a legacy piece for your dad, what are some of the things that you have learned from him and also from grieving the loss of him that has impacted how you are operating in the world and some of the decisions that you make? I think in telling that story people can absorb that and also be impacted by it as well.

Steph Jones: I learned so much from him and I think ultimately like at a subconscious level, I lived kind of to please my parents. I think we grow up in this way where he wanted me to be a financial analyst and I think it was one of like the proudest moments for him to see me get that job. I felt like pleasing him it was really pleasing for me. I think once I didn’t have him around anymore, it kind of open up that space in my mind where I was like, “Okay. I don’t want to live. My dad thinks it’s a great job, but he is also not living my 24 hours. How can I best live this?” I want to live his legacy and like remember him and honor him, but he would ultimately want me to be happy, so how can I do that?

Bjork Ostrom: It’s such an interesting thing. I was talking with a friend who’s a psychologist and child psychologist, but we are talking about just the impact that our parents have on us and how we view the world and operate in the world. It’s I think such a valuable thing to process and think about how can you simultaneously honor and look to please your parents if people have both parents, mom and dad, or whatever their situation might be. Well, also, pursuing your path and finding that balance between those two and making sure that those are in balance. I think that’s incredibly valuable and also hard thing to do to process through.

Steph Jones: Definitely.

Bjork Ostrom: Another question that I had related to something that you said as you were reading a lot of books, self-improvement books and things like that. What were some of the books that were most helpful for you along this journey?

Steph Jones: The start of my reading and I do a lot of Audible, but I’ll do like one book paper and then one also reading, but just for the sake of time, Audible has been like a godsend. The first one and this is recommended by someone who is in my yoga teacher training. She said You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. You might have heard of it. Girls, even guys have really found that to be super inspiring. I think you recommended this Essentialist or Essentialism by Greg McKeown. That was a great one. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss was probably one of the most inspiration for building a business online. I could go on.

Bjork Ostrom: Those are great and we’ll link to those in the show notes.

Steph Jones: For sure.

Bjork Ostrom: Because I think that’s for me too I was thinking just the other day about how influential just general knowledge is in forming the decisions that I’m making. Every once a while there’s a big takeaway that you get from that that has a massive impact, but what I found is I think it’s this slow but continual carving like building of your foundational knowledge. That only comes from a lot of consumption of that content over a long period of time. For me, that’s reading podcast and then occasional audio books like you said Audible. I encourage anybody that’s listening to really lean into that. If you’re not a reader like you said, Steph, Audible is a great solution. It’s nice because you can fill in the normally not occupied time with really good information like washing the dishes or doing laundry or driving.

Steph Jones: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Things like that.

Steph Jones: Right. That’s just like those margins of your day like it’s kind of just making something that I think is less enjoyable like a little more enjoyable but learning. It’s like we know the dishwasher here so I’m like, “Okay. You know what? I’ll get in my 30 minutes, 1.5 speed, I’ll learn.”

Bjork Ostrom: Absolutely. You’re at this point where you’re making some big decisions. You’ve lost your job as a financial analyst. You’re starting to lean into learning about some of these things and reading some of this information, listening to podcast and audiobooks. At what point do you say, “Hey, I’m going to take this first step into attempting to build something” and what did that look like?

Steph Jones: Still pretty fearful at this point. I almost like needed permission like your … I’m pretty lost. I’ve moved to San Diego, but actually prior to moving the week before, I quit at Wells Fargo. I’m still in Charlotte packing up and I went to a yoga class. My intention was still like constantly thinking of what I’m going to do. I have this sort of freak out moment in my mind in dancer pose. Gazing in myself in the mirror and I have like this rush over my body where I’m like, “This is the only space I’m so present. I so want to be here. I’m not waiting for a time to strike five. I want to make people feel the way this teacher is able to make me feel, so I’m going to do this.”

Bjork Ostrom: And do this means what?

Steph Jones: I’m going to pursue teacher training. I’m going to become a yoga teacher.

Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like? You have this realization that this is going to be the perfect fit for you or potentially really good fit for you. You’ve lost your job and this looks like the next step, so how do you pursue that?

Steph Jones: I researched some teacher trainings online. In order to become a yoga instructor, you have to go through a 200-hour teacher training and they just teach you the philosophy behind yoga, every posture. It’s in Sanskrit. I don’t know how familiar you are with yoga, but-

Bjork Ostrom: Very.

Steph Jones: It’s a lot that goes into it. It’s really like running an orchestra. It’s a lot. The 200-hour teacher training I started researching that. I was moving to San Diego the following week. I was like, “I’ll just try out a few studios and see what’s a fit” and ultimately landed that one in the Kauai called Buddhi Yoga, U-D-D-H-I. Went to a class there, met an instructor, Goldie, and she was incredible and basically gave me the encouragement I needed and was like, “This will change your life. You should do it.”

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you mentioned in the email when we were going back and forth was, was this before or after you’ve said? You started a blog and you are posting some recipes and dong some food related content. How did that tie into things and where was that at?

Steph Jones: I’m just still super curious about at pretty much anything. I am just like, “Okay. I’m going to go forth. If something light my attention, I’m going to try it.” I was still doing the yoga thing, but after you graduate from teacher training, you don’t have a job. You’re really no good. That’s a really long build. I was kind of like, “Okay. Why don’t I just try this food blog thing. I’ve seen Pinch of Yum grow it from the ground up. They laid out the building blocks. I just need to brick by brick figure this out.” Go on.

Bjork Ostrom: That was after you’ve wrapped up with the teacher training in San Diego? You had made the move. You are there and you said, “Okay.” In this in between after I graduated from teacher training, let’s look at building this site, maybe alongside looking for teaching jobs for yoga?

Steph Jones: Right, I’m doing both. I joined Food Blogger Pro. I think I’ve been a member for a couple of months and been watching all of the videos and I was like, “All right. I’m going to take the plunge and start sodelish.net.” It was I think about this time last year that I was going and I started building recipes. Before I announced the launch of the blog, I was like, “I’m going to be a pretend food blogger for a month like see what this feels like.” The idea of it sounds great, but in actuality do I want to do this? Is this for me?

Steph Jones: It was before I let people lean on it I’m going to make these recipes, test them, photograph them, write all the articles and just have content ready for the blog. I enjoyed it. It was my flow activity. I felt so immersed in it and I launched the blog and it was amazing and I did it for like three or four months, but ultimately I was like spending maybe eight hours from start to finish building one post. I’m sure Lindsay, I’m sure she’s gotten it down to a science now and she’s couldn’t just like batch and get out, but I was creating these recipes, testing them multiple times, learning the photography was taking away from yoga. I didn’t know if it was going to my end goal and my end goal in mind was to do yoga. I was just like it’s just distracting me.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you had said is we are talking back and forth about the podcast interview was you’d said, “I know yoga, not food.” It sounds like it ties into this idea of you recognizing what your ultimate goal is. Before we get into that, I think to rewind, I think that’s one of the things that’s so important, a piece of the story that’s so important to point out is it takes a ton of time and energy. I think even now like Lindsay probably spends 8 to 10 hours on a piece of content. It’s just such an involved process.

Bjork Ostrom: For you, it sounds like you’re enjoying that process, enjoyed the constant creation, but also knew that it wouldn’t necessarily lead you down this path of where you wanted to go. You have this understanding of like this is what my ideal would look like. Even though you could see yourself potentially maybe doing this, you knew that it wasn’t the best fit for it. Can you speak to how you went about crafting that vision of where you want to be and how you knew that you needed to change what you’re doing in order to reach that vision?

Steph Jones: It actually was just one day in particular where I had spent so much time trying to move like one box on the blog. It was just like one huge recommendation that comes from me is don’t tweak things and like I completely went against that.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Steph Jones: I just spent three hours moving a box three centimeters like that was ridiculous thing for me to do and it’s like don’t be such a perfectionist, which I’m getting close to being over. I was like, “Seriously! This is a ridiculous amount of time.” I called my brother and I was like, “I think I’m going to just focus on yoga and stop food blogging.” He was like, “Oh my God. All right.” Oh my God. He just like made this big deal about it and he was like, “We never thought you would do that.” I was like, “Oh, great.” Cool.

Bjork Ostrom: For context for those that aren’t familiar, one of the downloads that we have talks about 10 mistakes that bloggers make and how to fix them. One of the first ones is this concept of changing or tweaking things, especially in the early stages, it’s so easy to get lost and wanting to get … I feel like your example is a great one. Like wanting to move a box and getting in that perfect spot and it can become so distracting. Also, for somebody that’s a perfectionist, you want it to look right and to feel right.

Bjork Ostrom: You kind of stepping back realizing like, “I’m getting lost in this. I’m going too far down this rabbit hole with this site, so I’m going to take a step back. It’s not leading me to where I want to go, so I’m going to change things up.” Can you talk a little bit specifically about the vision that you had and what was your vision and how did you develop that vision? I think it’s important for people not to get lost in the work just for the sake of doing work, showing up every day, but to be working towards something. How did you know what that was for you?

Steph Jones: I had been using like visualization tactics since I was living in Charlotte and I would just get into this, “What’s my perfect day?” Like we can all live our perfect day. How am I going to get there? At this point in time, when I was ending the food blog, I was like, “Okay. My perfect day is I go on the beach, I run.” I’ve gotten that. I do yoga and I’m teaching yoga and maybe I’m working on an online website in some forum because I wanted to have both something I could do in person, but also something online. I was just super interested in building an online community. I just think that’s where everyone is and is the smart place to be for business. That was just the conclusion. I was like being in this food blog space is only taking me away from getting to that perfect day. I’m not going towards this end goal at all. I’m just like off the course. I’ve gone way left.

Bjork Ostrom: For those that listen to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, you might think, “Well, that’s a little bit weird that on the podcast you’re talking about somebody shifting away from a food blog.” It’s actually something that I really wanted to hone in on and talk about because one of my hopes is that the takeaway that people can get from listening to this is that what we’re doing is we’re building something that is an asset both to us and other people ideally. That might not look like the thing that you think it will look like or the thing that you see somebody else building.

Bjork Ostrom: There has to be some flexibility and some evolution of the thing that you’re building in order to get to the point where you want to get might and where you want to get might not look like where somebody else is. How do people have flexibility in their thinking about things and their visualization of what something could be and I think it really helps to have an end goal? For somebody who has never done a visualization, you talk about doing visualizations and crafting what your ideal day would be. How does somebody go about doing that?

Steph Jones: I think it’s almost just getting rid of any fear. A lot of us have fear-based thinking and so we can’t see how this will happen. When you release any resistance to how, you can just think about what you want. We all have a different vision of what that would be and I think it’s easier to rely on a path that is already built. If you want to make a food blog, you’ve seen Lindsay do this and you want to just do it in that exact order and I fell into that trap. I was like, “I just want to be Lindsay like I want to just make this post and this looks amazing. I’ll make 50,000. It’s done.” That just wasn’t who I was. I wasn’t someone who could write about food. It didn’t make sense for me. Just getting into the vision of what does make sense for you and maybe it’s just like picking up pieces from other people and then developing your own perfect day.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such a good point there to observe, to look, to see what other people are doing and then use your self-awareness of who you are and what your ideal would look like to complete your own puzzle using the pieces from other people. It’s not that by any means that you’re not learning from other people. It’s not that you’re not intentionally sitting down and observing what other people are doing, but you’re not trying to produce an exact replica of what that is. You have an understanding of what you are hoping to build and how you’re hoping to impact people and then gathering those pieces and building your ideal situation. For you, you have an idea of what that was and started to refine that a little bit. You said, “Okay.” I know that it’s not specifically something directly related to food or in this case building a food blog, but you do know that there’s a community element to it. What did the next evolution of what you’re building look like?

Steph Jones: It just so happen and I feel like this was thanks to just me knowing I was going to build this business online. I attended I think it was Teachable. It was a summit online and they were like, “You need to transform someone. If they’re going to buy something from you, you need to get that from A to B.” I kept being like what are problems that I can solve for people? What is something that I can put out there that has helped someone get from point A to point B? We developed a class at yoga studio that I actually ended up getting a job at.

Steph Jones: That was a form of yoga using hand weights and ankle weights and I started teaching that last year in January. The class ended up transforming my body like it was might be answered to me my any workout worry I had like I would go from studio to studio trying to workout doing cycling, Pilates, a whole bunch of things that were never actually getting results. This program or class ended up transforming my body and at that point I was like, “How can I make this more? We’re only teaching it at my one studio.”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s when you started to think about, I would assume, transitioning it into some type of online version of that. We’ll get to that. Before we do, rewind just real quick. For those that aren’t familiar with Teachable, can you explain what that is and is that a class or a course that you know? Is that available for other people to watch? I’m sure people are interested to hear a little bit more about that.

Steph Jones: I haven’t look at it much. I went to their summit, but if you want to sell a course online, it’s a one stop shop for you to set up your course. I looked into it from my website. I would say like almost the equivalent of you owning a membership site, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm. We used it for WP Tasty. We’ve used it for couple other things, but it’s a really-

Steph Jones: You said the video on there I think too.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a really easy way to set up content site like a membership site for people that don’t have membership sites and you wouldn’t have to use WordPress or something like that. It’s like a course builder. We don’t use it for Food Blogger Pro. We don’t use it for other classes, but we do use it for WP Tasty actually to help people learn about how to use the plugins, so super easy way to create it. When we get to that point, I would love to hear how you went about building your site. Before we do that, I want to hear what were the first steps into it? You say, “Okay. I know that this is something that maybe will work. We’ve seen it work with people in our brick and mortar location and I want to transition into doing this online.” What are the first steps that you take in doing that?

Steph Jones: This is a very long, long slow build. I am like starting to put a couple of the moves that we do in the class on my Instagram just to gauge interest. I was like, “Does anyone care? Does anyone want to know what I’m doing out here in California? A lot of my friends are back east. How can I sort of engage them with this program? It’s really helped me.” I’m getting compliments that I look better and I was like, “All right. Let’s see if anyone cares.” Most people like, “Oh, those are awesome moves like I’m saving them. I want to use those in my workouts.”

Steph Jones: Then one person in particular is my cousin’s wife was like, “You should start a YouTube channel.” I was like, “Hmm, maybe. I don’t know if that’s for me. I don’t really know if I could put my class on there because I really like it to be the music. There’s so many legal issues with that. I said to her, I was like, ”I’m going to start filming my classes. I’m going to make specific routine that’s going to help you and would you mind doing the classes three times a week and take it before and after picture and let’s just experiment and see how you look?”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I think whether intentional or not, essentially what you’re doing is this little beta group. You’re thinking, “Hey, this is something I’m interested in doing. Before I go through the process of creating a bunch of content that I’m going to sell to people, I’m going to use a small group to test a very basic version of it.” In the tech world, they call it an MVP, minimum viable product. It’s like you’re creating this thing that is the most basic version of what you think might eventually work. In doing that, what did you learn?

Steph Jones: Oh my gosh, so much. I didn’t really realize like how to get those huge 45-minute files online. There was just a lot of little things and like I would be filming it just for the small tripod and it would stop in the middle or just small little things that you just really need to be so over prepared because I knew I wanted to get her a new video every week. If something happen on the one time I was recording, I would have to re-record and redo the entire workout, which was super taxing for me.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re kind of working the kinks out essentially, getting into it and saying, “Okay. What are the just ground level things that I need? How do I record a video? Or once I have that video, how do I get it online in a really effective way that’s not on YouTube?” Eventually, you work those things out kinks out. You kind of get through it and you’re able to send these video files to her. I’m guessing what happens then is it’s a generally positive experience for her. Is that kind of how it went out?

Steph Jones: Yeah. She absolutely loved it and she was thrilled. She had been working out herself like four or five times a week and not seeing the result so she felt like for the time she was investing. She was super happy that she only had to work out three times a week, could do it from home because she had two kids and saw great results in her after picture. She was just like completely blown away.

Bjork Ostrom: You have now beta test. You’ve figured out how to actually create the content to upload it, to share it, and now you’re at the point where you say, “Okay. What does it look like to open this up a little bit more to additional people?” You know that it works at least it did with this specific individual. How do you decide to make that jump into creating an actual piece of content that would be available for people online?

Steph Jones: The quality of the videos were terrible so I knew I would have to re-record them, but before I went into that, I went and bought a WordPress domain, stephyoga.com, and made a landing page. It was really simple and I’m surprised that it even worked, but I used Elementor to create it and then it was just a picture of my before and after telling people that you can work out for 45 minutes, three times a week, join the wait lists and let’s just see what happens.

Bjork Ostrom: A couple things with that. What were you in order to allow people to sign up for waiting list and to have the landing page? I think that’s a really great takeaway. For anybody that’s thinking about any idea, I think one takeaway that you can jot down is as soon as you’re starting to think about it, create a really basic landing page for people to not only allow them to sing up to be informed of it, but also it allows you to gather some feedback as to how many people would actually be interested in it. Huge takeaway, really smart move on your part in terms of what that look like to build that you mentioned a couple of the things. How did people like go through the process of putting in their email and their name and where was that being saved in terms of the email provided that you have and any other tools that were helpful with that?

Steph Jones: I went through all of the videos in Food Blogger Pro to set up my WordPress site initially and then after that I used ActiveCampaign. I think I had like a 15-day trial then I ended up spending the $15 a month or whatever for their basic. I don’t know if that’s quite necessary, but I just really like the look of having the boxes on my website for people to sign up. I felt like the quality of my brand sort of I wanted to match it to the site and it just look really slick and clean.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. For those that aren’t familiar, ActiveCampaign is email marketing tool. We’ve also talked to Nathan from ConvertKit on the podcast. It’s similar. ActiveCampaign is maybe a little bit more advanced in terms of the tagging and automations that you can do. I think biggest takeaway is just have something that allows people to sign up. ActiveCampaign is what we use for Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro, but lots of people that use other solutions as well. What did you find when you put this page up and how did you get people to go there?

Steph Jones: I was shocked. I was just like, “Okay. This is pretty standard.” I don’t even know if I would send it myself. First day, I think we had about 30 names and that was just through my own Instagram. I didn’t do any marketing, paid advertising, or anything of that sort. It was just like, “Hey, this is my before and after picture. This program has really helped me. I want to help transform you. Just give me your email and I’ll let you know more details.”

Bjork Ostrom: You posted an actual post on Instagram that said, “I just put up this landing page. I’m thinking about doing this class. If you are interested, you can go to this URL,” which I’m guessing you put in your profile and then signup for the waiting list. You had 30 people signup.

Steph Jones: Yeah, first day and I was like I was getting emails and it was like the most exciting time. I was like, “Oh my gosh. People I’ve never met are emailing me. What? This is crazy.”

Bjork Ostrom: At that time, how many Instagram followers did you have? Like what was the conversion rate for that?

Steph Jones: I think I had 700.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s incredible.

Steph Jones: It was crazy.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, you know, “Okay. People are kind of interested in this.” How do you build on that initial momentum?

Steph Jones: I felt like that was enough to get going. I made a drip series for them explaining what the program is and that they need to set up ankle weights and likely open up for enrollment or a purchase in two months. I still didn’t know because I hadn’t even filmed the videos yet. The product is not even made because this was just for me to see, “Is this something people want?”

Bjork Ostrom: For those that aren’t familiar, can you explain what a drip campaign is and the basics of how you went about setting that up?

Steph Jones: In ActiveCampaign, you can basically setup a series of emails that goes out to your email list where it almost looks personalized. You can say like, “Hey, Bjork, thanks for signing up for the wait list. Be on the lookout for more information in the upcoming days.” Your next email will be more information about why they signup, what they’ll be receiving. You can just keep like sending emails to people without you actually having to be involved. I’ll put like the wait time of seven days. I don’t want to bombard people, but I also want to keep them excited about it.

Bjork Ostrom: You know that people are interested in it. They signed up for it. You don’t want to email them 10 times in a day, but you want to give people adequate amount of information. The great thing with any of these email service providers whether it’s MailChimp or ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit allows you to do that in a really easily way to build this drip campaign we can say on the first day right when they sign up send this email. The next day, send this email.

Steph Jones: Immediately.

Bjork Ostrom: You build out this drip campaign. Now, you have a little funnel going. You have landing page you can direct people to. You have a drip campaign that goes out after they sign up and are you using your Instagram account as the primary source of driving people to that landing page? How did you get the additional people to sign up for your courses as you are preparing it and building it?

Steph Jones: Instagram and Facebook. Just my personal pages was the main driver and I think other people were sharing it so they were telling their friends about it was another driver, but it was just those two.

Bjork Ostrom: I got it. At this point, you weren’t paying for anything. This is all organic.

Steph Jones: Completely.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. You’re telling people, “Hey, it might kind of two-month range for this to happen, for this to open up.” Now, it’s kind of pressure time, right? That was like for us for Food Blogger Pro. We pre-sold Food Blogger Pro and then we said in three months we’re going to launch. It’s a stressful time. How did you go about creating the content? Then when you did have it created, I want to talk to you about what it’s like to launch, but just talk about the constant creation process right now.

Steph Jones: The actual sequences were already built because I’d use them for my beta test. I just had to record them in a high quality manner. I was like, “Oh, I really want to be at the beach. I want everyone to feel like they’re in San Diego.” That was a terrible idea. I would go down there.

Bjork Ostrom: Not exactly a controlled environment.

Steph Jones: I was just like, “What am I thinking?” If windy, you couldn’t hear me and that was like trial and error like three weeks. I just wouldn’t give it up and then I was like, “Okay. I’m just going to go to the studio. I don’t think anyone actually really cares about the background. They probably just care about like the yoga aspect.” I started filming. I just used a tripod and would run out the studio for an hour and a half, film, come back home, edit it in my 30-day trial of Final Cut Pro.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice.

Steph Jones: To do it as cheaply as possible, I just had to like bang it out in those 30 days.

Bjork Ostrom: Good for you. I think that’s so awesome. They talk about this concept, which I’ve mentioned a few times which is ramen profitability, but with anything online you can create something for a really affordable amount if you’re willing to hustle. If you’re willing to learn Final Cut and edit things in the 30-day free trial period, you can have really well-produced video, shot with maybe a decent camera or your iPhone or Android phone and have really decent quality content that then can guide people along the way if you know what you’re doing. For you, you did with yoga. That was something that you understood and you knew. You’ve gone through the process. You edit it. Now, this is what I feel like is one of the hardest things. How do you figure out how to deliver that … Well, before we get there, let’s talk about how did you know you are ready to launch? At what point did you say, “Okay. I’m going to now send an email to these people and say ‘You can purchase my course’”? Talk about that moment.

Steph Jones: I think I had about at that point maybe 60 emails and I was like, “Okay. I need to give them a date. People are really ready to try this product. They keep asking me about it. They keep wanting to know the price. I don’t even have any idea. I just need to set a deadline.” I felt like for relevancy purposes, January 2nd would be perfect. People are going to want to get in shape. They’re excited about it. Let’s do it then. I think it was maybe end of November I told them it would be January 2nd, so I knew my deadline was set. I hadn’t finish filming, but I had at least one video. I knew that I was going to be able to produce the first week so as long as I had that going. They would be able to receive one weekly.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s something that I’ve heard people talk about before is not even having the complete content finished, but building it as you go with that first time around. Were you going to deliver that content via email and then direct them to a password protected page? What did that look like?

Steph Jones: That came about then I realized I tried to create my own membership website and it was just entirely too much like with this deadline. I was like, “Oh my God. I’m learning HTML, CSS. What am I doing?” I hired a web developer. I just post an ad on Craigslist and sifted through all of the applicants and found a guy who was willing to do it for $800. I was like, “Okay. I have 60 people and I felt like my conversion rate is going to be high. This is a really targeted email list. This is worthy investment. I’m going to do it.”

Bjork Ostrom: You went for it. This individual built you the website. Do you know what they used to build it? What platform it was on?

Steph Jones: I think it was MemberPress and I knew you guys, I actually talk to Alexa because I was like, “You guys are really clean, slick site.” You guys used what? ExpressionEngine?

Bjork Ostrom: Correct. You’ve done your research. Good job.

Steph Jones: Yeah, I did.

Bjork Ostrom: MemberPress is a WordPress plugin and that’s one that I’m familiar with. It’s actually the one that is recommended by the membership guys. There was a podcast interview.

Steph Jones: I listened to that.

Bjork Ostrom: Way back. It’s a popular WordPress plugin for membership site. You have that. Somebody has built that for you. You make a little bit of a risky decision and say, “I’m going to put $800 into this. I don’t know if I’m going to get it back for sure or not, but I do know that I need this in order to run my site and to have this membership site.” Now you have all the components. You have the first pieces of content. You have the site built. You have a waiting list of 60 people and the time comes to say, “Okay. I’m going to officially open this up.” How do you go about doing that and also how do you know how to go about pricing the course and the content that you’re selling?

Steph Jones: That was a little tricky too, but I figured for the pricing portion I said, “Okay. If I’m giving them six videos, your typical drop in for yoga class is $20.” I want to make this affordable and I don’t feel like anything over 100 is worth it, so I said 97. I knew you guys ended in seven. I was like I think that’s the golden number. I emailed everyone I think the day of and said it was open for enrollment was how I just basically launched it. I think I’d actually look at how your guys sequence was setup and modeled mine somewhere to that like, “This is open for enrollment today. I’m actually only accepting 25 members” was the original plan because I was like I don’t know what will happen. This is a little risky. I think within two hours there were 15 signed up.

Bjork Ostrom: Wow! Do you remember what that was like to see those first couple sign ups come through? You’re like, “This is working and I didn’t even think it would.”

Steph Jones: No, I was ecstatic. “Whoa!” It opened up the night before because we had it all ready and he just made it available and three or four people bought the night before and I was like, “Wow! This is wild.” I said it was only open for the one week, so I did do the open-close motto, which I think is really the way to go.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s something that we do for those that follow along Food Blogger Pro. We do four public enrollments. We do four enrollments each year, two are public, which we talked about here in the podcast. We talk about on Pinch of Yum. We talk about on Instagram. We talk about it everywhere. We really lean into it, encouraged people to sign up. Then, in between that we do two periods where it’s just the waiting list. The idea with that is it works from a marketing perspective where you have a specific time period where people have to sign up. For us, the other really, really important piece with that is it allows us to not be constantly inundating our audience with-

Steph Jones: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Like, “Hey, signup for Food Blogger Pro.” We’re not having them mention it all the time in the podcast. It allows us to have a marketing season where we bring it up occasionally and then we don’t. Obviously, we can bring it up in conversation here and there, but it works really well for that. Then, the third thing that works really well for that is it allows our community, especially the forums to have this season where people are coming in and they are the new members that are part of this class and then it closes back down again. We’ve found the same thing that works really well for us from multiple different perspectives and it sounds like the same was true for you. You did this first launch. Have you done another launch since then and how did that go?

Steph Jones: Yeah. I ended up doing a flash sale. Maybe early February I was getting a lot of emails from people who were interested in the program because of the people who are currently in the program. I had been posting a lot about it. People are like, “I really want to get it.” They were sharing this on my behalf, which was the best way for other people to find out about it. I already exhausted the audience I had. I did another flash sale, so I end up getting 35 people on the initial run and then I think we had a flash sale with 25 more. Then, now I have it open because I was like, “Let me just see what this feels like to have it open.” I think I only got four or five, so I am going to go back to the open-close, but it is currently open. It may not be when this airs.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Steph Jones: Right now. I don’t know it was kind of confusing for people I think.

Bjork Ostrom: That make sense to have those true like hard open-close, especially if you have the waiting list. I think sometimes especially when we do an open enrollment period right after somebody signs up for the waiting list. They’re like, “Wait a minute. Is this something that like I just have to sign up for the waiting list and then you will market to me after?”

Steph Jones: I know.

Bjork Ostrom: What we found is and even for us as a team it’s nice to have that scheduled out. There are some things where obviously it doesn’t make sense to have a waiting list. An example would be WP Tasty like you can just buy that anytime any those plugins or Tasty Food Photography. At any point, you can go and purchase that. It doesn’t make sense to have a waiting list for that.

Steph Jones: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: It only works in certain instances where there’s multiple different check boxes that would need to be checked. I think for what you are doing it’s a great example of that. What are the biggest takeaways that you’ve learned in this process knowing that you’re at a point now where, “Hey, you have a successful online business. It hasn’t been easy though. You’ve had to walk a journey that has been a lot of time and energy and hard work, closing down some things that you realized wasn’t a good fit.” What would your advice be for people that are looking to walk a similar journey or to do a similar thing to what you’ve done?

Steph Jones: I think really mindset has been one of the major things for me. I know I’ve had some really big hurdles that I had to jump like the whole website was deleted, different things where I could have totally just quit. It’s just going to be something that I’m going to do for the rest of my life and it’s not something I’m going to do for three months, but it’s such a long time horizon. It has been able to keep me going and knowing that as long as I improve a little bit every single day that one day I will get to this point, but there’s also never destination, always will be on this journey.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. One of the things that I appreciate most about the work that we do and it sounds like lines up with what you’re doing too is this idea that where it’s not like we’re going to one day wrap this up and say, “Okay. Now, we’re done forever.” Work and the things that we do are I think one of the greatest gifts that we have and figuring out how to align that in the way that feels really good, not only for what we’re doing, but also for the people that we’re serving. If we can line all that stuff up in a way that feels good and is helping people and also allows us to grow and build, then we’re really lucky to be doing that. Hopefully, podcast like this help people do that.

Bjork Ostrom: I know that your story will play a role in that as people listen to this and we’ve heard countless times from people following up and saying, “Hey, this podcast had a really big influence on me” and I know that will be true for people that listen to this. I really appreciate you coming on, Steph. Before we wrap up, can you talk about where people can follow along with you and learn more about your site and on social media? I’m sure that we have some yogis that would be interested in learning a little bit more about the specific program. Where can people follow along?

Steph Jones: @stephyoga_ is my Instagram where I mostly update there. My website is stephyoga.com and getting into the Facebook thing, I think it’s stephyoga6 on that one.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool and what we’ll do is we’ll link those in the show notes so people can find them as well. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast, Steph. I really appreciate it, super fun to talk to you and huge congratulations on your success.

Steph Jones: Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, friends, Alexa here bringing you the reviewer of the week, but first how great was that episode? Isn’t Steph just super inspirational for following her passions, figuring out what makes her happy and just pursuing them? I just loved her story and I hope that you got a lot out of it. Now, for our reviewer of the week, this is from Alexa, another Alexa which I’m seriously excited about from the blog Girl in Healing. It says, “I seriously love listening to Bjork talk. His laugh makes me smile. He asked all the questions I’m thinking when he interviews and I know he has felt unsure in the past about his solo episodes, but I have found those to be so motivational and it create a deeper connection. Keep it up, Bjork.” Wow! That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Alexa. Bjork is awesome and we are so, so, so thrilled and honored to have him as a part of our team and as our fearless leader here at Food Blogger Pro. For all of you listening out there, thank you so much for tuning in and until next week, make it a great week.

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