Welcome to episode 48 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork interviews Dustin & Lacey Baier from A Sweet Pea Chef.
Last week, Bjork interviewed Jay Papasan about achieving extraordinary results by committing to a single goal. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Finding Success on the Verge of Quitting
A few years ago, A Sweet Pea Chef was floundering. Dustin & Lacey had grown it to the point where it was getting expensive to maintain, but they hadn’t unlocked the secrets to turning it into a successful business. They bounced from great idea to great idea, but just weren’t able to get anything to stick.
Until, one day, an internet passer-by pounced and described how inferior they were to the competition. Little did they know, this angry email would lead them down a path that would help them properly monetize their website and start turning things around.
Since then, Dustin & Lacey learned how to say no to good opportunities to focus on what’s most important, cracked the code for viral vide, and took A Sweet Pea Chef to new heights.
In this episode, Dustin & Lacey share:
- Why they almost gave up their blog
- How they narrowed their focus and eliminated most of what they had worked on
- How an angry email inspired them to do better
- Why they decreased the amount of content they were putting out
- Why they decided to focus on video
- How they work together as a team and balance each other out
- How they approach sponsored posts when many opportunities are for processed foods
- Lacey’s advice for getting over perfectionism with video
- A Sweet Pea Chef
- Take Back your Health Academy
- Married to your Business
- A Sweet Pea Chef on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & YouTube
- Episode 47.5
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 48 of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Hey there everybody, this is Bjork. If you’re a diligent Food Blogger Pro Podcast listener, you might know that we always release new episodes every Tuesday. If you’re again, a diligent listener, you know that this one is coming out on a Thursday. We’re switching it up. Why the switch? Because we’re actually the middle of public enrollment for Food Blogger Pro. Our membership site for bloggers that want to start, grow and learn how to create an income from their food blog.
Last Tuesday, so just a couple of days ago, we released half a episode which we’ve never done before. It was just a short 15-minute episode, announcing officially that we’re opening enrollment to Food Blogger Pro. If you haven’t listened to Tuesday’s short podcast, I would check that out. It’s the one right before this. It’s 47.5. I share the story of how we started Food Blogger Pro and explained the ins and the outs of what you get with the membership, including hundreds of video tutorials. We do live Q&A sessions every month, which are super fun. We just started using a new technology that we can bring somebody on to the call, so we can chat with them and talk through things.
Membership also includes access to the community forum and we’ve just started to add on a bunch of industry experts that specialize in different industries and niches like SEO or Facebook marketing, or design and development. I talk about who those industry experts are. My guess is that, for those of you that listen to podcasts, some of those might be pretty familiar.
That’s a little bit about Food Blogger Pro. If you really want to know more, you can check out the episode before this one, to hear me talk about the story of Food Blogger Pro and what’s involved and what you get, when you sign up. If you’re listening to this episode before June 2 of 2016, then there’s still time to sign up for Food Blogger Pro. You can head over to foodbloggerpro.com and look for the big orange sign up button and that’ll bring you through the signup process.
What’s today’s podcast episode all about? I’m excited to share it with you because I’m chatting with Dustin and Lacey Baier from A Sweet Pea Chef. Dustin and Lacey share, how they transitioned from being on the verge of quitting their blog altogether, to changing and running it as a really profitable business. They, even now are at the point where they have an employee, somebody that’s working for them.
In the interview, I mentioned a Food Blogger Pro Case study that Dustin was kind enough to share with us, 6 months ago. You can check that out, if you want to, by going to foodbloggerpro.com/sweetpea, S-W-E-E-T P-E-A and read through that. It’s a really cool case study. Thanks Dustin, for writing that up.
Their story is inspiring in general, just in terms of how they had to go through multiple iterations to really find their sweet spot, pun intended, with what they’re doing and to really build their business. I hope you find a lot of inspiration from it. I know that I did, as I chatted with them. Without further adieu, Dustin and Lacey, welcome to the podcast.
Lacey Baier: Hey, hi.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so excited to have you here. Dustin, actually, you had written a really awesome post. This was maybe, 6 months ago, talking a little bit about Food Blogger Pro. You said “Hey, I’m going to share this with you, just in case you wanted to use that in some way, shape or form.” I was like “Oh my gosh, this is awesome.” It was really fun to read through. You did a slight poke at us, for our picture, wearing weird hats, which was touché. Makes sense.
I want to pull a little quote from there, and I want to hear you guys talk a little bit about more about that, officially on the podcast here. In that blog post you said, A Sweet Pea Chef. Your blog was at the point where Lacey had gotten back to work twice, using the site as a glorified recipe binder, trying to decide if it was worth keeping the lights on. I think a lot of people that are listening to this podcast, could maybe relate to that. Can you take me back to that point and fill that picture out, a little bit more. What were you thinking? What were you feeling? How long had you been working on the blog? I’m so curious to know.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, Lacey had been doing it, I guess for a year and a half, while we had our first 2 kids. We’d gotten large enough to generate a good enough traffic, where we couldn’t stay on one of your cheaper hosting services. We weren’t generating really, any money. We didn’t really have an ad waterfall or any sort of product really, besides a downloadable cookbook.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. We had to wait 3 months to get payment for ads, to have it like a career.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. That 50 or $100 mark, where it actually issues the payment.
Dustin Baier: Yeah. I’d basically, been funding it as a project. We had even paid my brother, the guy who does the video for us now, to design out a cookbook, thinking this was going to be the big thing that helped us take off or whatever. Looking back on it, it was actually relatively successful. We didn’t know how to quantify that, really. How to iterate on anything or any other monetization strategies, besides just a cook and sticking ads on the site.
Lacey Baier: We spread ourselves really thin on all these different projects that we were working on, at the time. We were just overworked.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, we’d gotten annoyed with sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting and stuff, denying photos. We decided to build out our own. Just adding in extra projects all the time, trying to see if this thing would stick, but not really ever sticking with anything long enough to iterate on it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That idea of trying these different projects, but really it’s not necessarily something that’ll work right away. You got to stick with it for a long time. If you don’t stick with it a long time, then you don’t know if it’ll work or not. It’s easy to jump projects. I totally get that.
I want to go back. Lacey, when you first started the blog, was it your idea? You said “Hey, I want to get into this start sharing recipes.” At that point, did you know that it was possible to build a blog into a full-time job, or were you just doing it for hobby? What did that look like? Was it both of you, starting it together?
Lacey Baier: That’s a really good question. I have a Master’s degree in Psychology. I was a trained therapist and I was doing social work for a child welfare. We had our first baby and I was like, “You know what? I don’t want to go back to work. I have no interest in doing this anymore. It’s too negative. I want to do something positive in my life.”
Dustin has always been the entrepreneur. I had never been that. He said “Well, why don’t you come up with an idea for a business that you can start, where you don’t need a lot of education. You can just start it.” We looked into doing a personal Chef service.
Dustin Baier: At first, you were going to do cupcakes.
Lacey Baier: At first, I was going to do cupcakes. Then we looked into the personal Chef service which, where you would go in and cook food for people in their homes for the week. Then Dustin said, “Hey, why don’t you start a blog so that people can get to know you, and you can get to know your potential customers?” I was like, “What’s a blog? Is that one of those things people go talk on?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Lacey Baier: I had no clue about blogging or the difference between blogs and forums. Just all of that. It was a huge learning curve for me, but Dustin who’s trained as a Software Developer, knew a lot about it. He’s nudged me along the way.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. When you first got started, the idea was, “Hey, we’re going to use this, create content and we’re going to use that content as essentially, a promotion tool for a more traditional retail. Maybe not retail, but maybe a more traditional service-based business.”
Dustin Baier: Yeah. I was going out and yeah, doing a lot of work for other people. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. At what point did you switch that idea over into saying “Hey, I wonder if we would do something more online-based?” When did that happen?
Lacey Baier: I’d say, pretty quickly. A, I really enjoyed the whole concept of being able to share a little bit about the recipes, a little bit about my life. I really took onto photography and loved it.
Dustin Baier: We’ve always been interested in photography.
Lacey Baier: Then food is awesome. I was really drawn to the blog. I put a lot more energy into that, than I was putting into the day job. I would say, within 6 months we …
Dustin Baier: The problem backed, tying into the, putting too many eggs in too many baskets. We never really abandoned the personal cheffing, quickly enough. It was always lingering there. We had advertisements running, that were costing money. Lacey even went and took a part-time gig at a Le Creuset, to teach people how to cook. Try to network, to get more clients.
Lacey Baier: For that personal Chef service.
Dustin Baier: Part of the business. I would’ve said, it was actually 3 years later, before we finally were like, “Oh, maybe we should just focus on the online thing.” The real starting point of that was, doing this cookbook. It was like, “Okay, we’re going to put all of our eggs into this cookbook. Focus on the online thing.” Then, I think the cookbook made 500 bucks or something.
Bjork Ostrom: Was that a physical cookbook or just?
Lacey Baier: No, it was an eBook.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, yeah. We’ve noticed that too. We are in the process of figuring out, “How does the online food-based e-cookbook thing work?” Lindsay had a couple that were up for a while, and it was the same experience where … I think there’s something different, a little bit of a rabbit shell, but I think there’s something different than the tangible cookbook that people can buy or gift, versus a digital cookbook where it feels, maybe not quite as valuable when recipes are so readily available. Totally get that.
At this point, you knew that you wanted to focus on online stuff. Building your blog, building a business online. You also, from what it sounds like, had these other things that were almost, without realizing it, that you were spending a lot of additional time on. Just as a quick list, what were those things that you were focusing on, out of curiosity?
Lacey Baier: You’re going to make us cry.
Dustin Baier: Yeah. She was doing the personal Chef business.
Lacey Baier: Trying to outreach, to get clients.
Dustin Baier: Outreach, to get clients. We were doing all of the content generation, which I think was 3 posts a week at that time because we had read … Maybe it was on Pat Flynn’s site or something that, “You have to do 3 posts a week.” We thought that was mandatory.
Lacey Baier: Doing the newsletter.
Dustin Baier: We had a …
Lacey Baier: Our email list.
Dustin Baier: A newsletter, which we would always do unique recipes every week, just for the newsletter. Then the Dishfolio site, which was a Foodgawker kind of concept. We were also trying to do …
Lacey Baier: Which had a very slow backend. It would take hours to approve the photos.
Bjork Ostrom: That was something that you guys had built and created?
Dustin Baier: I’m sorry?
Bjork Ostrom: That was something that you guys had built and created?
Lacey Baier: We contracted it, to get built. The whole concept behind it, and the design was ours.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it, yeah.
Lacey Baier: What else? Raising 2 children.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s that.
Dustin Baier: Now 3, but at the time it was just 2.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. At what point after doing all of this, do you have this realization, “Oh, we need to cut out a lot of these things?” Then, how do you decide what to cut out because I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of being really busy and juggling lots of things. The hard part is, I’m guessing from all of those things, you were creating an income.
Maybe you were doing the personal Chef stuff and you had some side income from that. That is, for a lot of people, what sustains them. How do you justify cutting something out, knowing that you want to build something in, a little bit more? At the same time, knowing that you’re giving up potential income?
Lacey Baier: That is a hard thing to do.
Dustin Baier: The first thing is giving yourself permission, I think. Back then it always felt like, this was always what we had to do. Lacey and I were arguing a little bit. We were in probably, more fights than normal, for our relationship, over not getting stuff done. I was commuting to work, downtown, taking forever. I expected too much out of Lacey, and Lacey wouldn’t communicate saying “Hey, we need to pick some of the stuff, to get rid of.” She went back to work.
Lacey Baier: It came to a point where I was like, “I don’t want to do this anymore. This is too difficult. There’s too many things. It’s impossible for me to stay on track.” Oh, it was the podcast. Dustin wanted to add in podcasting and a video channel.
Bjork Ostrom: You were like, “No.”
Dustin Baier: This was back when YouTube had just started.
Lacey Baier: I allowed it for a minute. We tried a few videos and they were awful. Thankfully, they’re not on YouTube. I was like, “I just can’t do this. This is too much work. I want to go back to work.”
Bjork Ostrom: It said in that little quote that I read before. It says “Back to work, twice.” Is there more to that?
Dustin Baier: Yeah, so when we lived in San Diego, we started looking for work. Then we decided to move to Austin. The second time was, she wound up going back to CFS or something like that.
Lacey Baier: Yeah, to social work.
Dustin Baier: Social work stuff. Then from there, then she actually a did a little bit of … We went back to doing social and media stuff, and the blog again. Then she went back and got a job as a Project Manager. That was when finally, we had Hunter and we had this conversation in the hospital of, “How do we really prioritize,” like you were talking about. “How do we focus on what’s important? What was generating revenue? What wasn’t?” Start with less expectations, to some degree.
Bjork Ostrom: What you mean by that? I’m curious.
Dustin Baier: Rather than saying, “We have to get all of the stuff done, in order to be successful.” Instead say, “Really, all we need to get to, is X, and remove everything else. How do we iterate on” … In the beginning it was, “How do we iterate on generating more traffic, so that the ads pay, we get paid every month or the ads pay out 300 bucks a month or whatever?” Then adding to that piece it was like, we knew video was important and a big thing. We were like, “How do we add video into this, in a way that isn’t so stressful and frustrating?”
At this point we had removed, managing another site. We had removed …
Lacey Baier: Personal Chef service.
Dustin Baier: The personal Chef stuff, because we knew that the revenue coming from that wasn’t scalable.
Lacey Baier: It wasn’t optimized either.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, it wasn’t scalable and it wasn’t really optimized, and it wasn’t where our passions lay. All it was, was causing us frustration. Instead it was, "How do we focus on the piece that we do like doing, and iterate it and monetize it?” It really came down to an email of a lady being really mean to us.
Lacey Baier: That’s right.
Dustin Baier: Pointing out how, we’re not nearly as cool as Pinch of Yum.
Lacey Baier: We have way too many ads on our site.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, it was funny. She said we had way too many ads on our site, even though we had less ads than you guys did.
Bjork Ostrom: Just the ultimate email to get. Aren’t those the best?
Lacey Baier: Yeah, those are fun. At the time, I don’t think we had heard of Pinch of Yum.
Dustin Baier: No, we hadn’t.
Lacey Baier: We went over there and we checked you guys out. We’re like, “Wait a minute. There’s this couple that’s making it work. Are you kidding me? They’re doing a, How to Start a Food Blog,” which was all of our ideas.
Dustin Baier: That was another one of the ideas we had.
Bjork Ostrom: It was this silent, “Curse you” moment that, maybe turned into a little bit of motivation. Is that …
Lacey Baier: Yeah, it’s exactly what happened. It motivated us that, “Okay.” At first, we were really bothered by … We’d given up on … Was that email, before Hunter went to the hospital?
Dustin Baier: Yes.
Lacey Baier: Okay, so that was already ruminating in us, before we had to go to the hospital, when our 2-week old son had a whole bunch of issues. He’s fine now. We had all of this stuff going on. I was like, “This is possible. Somebody can make this work. It’s not ridiculous to work as a married couple. People do that.”
Dustin Baier: It was more, confirmation and validation that it was possible. Before we’d almost been like, “Maybe you just can’t monetize a food blog unless you’re a giant. Unless you’re someone like The Pioneer Woman. At that time it had been like, ”Well, you just got to have these tons and tons of views, in order to make a living." Seeing that you guys had been successful, and successful enough to the point where you’re able to stably have 2 income streams. If you wanted to, support children and all that kind of stuff. That was validation for us that, this is something that one can do and make a living out of.
Lacey Baier: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. It’s almost like an analogy I like to give is, the idea of the 4-minute mile, where once somebody broke the 4-minute mile, then it happened … I don’t know what it was. It was 12 times that year. It had never happened before. Oh, when you see that it’s possible, you see somebody do it, potentially you can look at how people have structured that, what they’ve done. Then you can start to move forward with it, confidently knowing that the work will, not always, but it has at least, a potential to be rewarded and to build that into something.
At this point you say “Okay, we have this idea of this thing being a possibility.” What do the next steps look like? You clear out the things that you know, aren’t working or that you don’t get a lot of joy from. You shutdown the service side of things that you were doing. You shutdown the Dishfolio site. Is that right? You stopped focusing on that.
Dustin Baier: We actually gave it back to the guy who built it for us.
Lacey Baier: We were like, You know what? You have more passion for this, and more time. This has become more, your baby than ours. Have fun."
Bjork Ostrom: You focus in. That ties into … There’s a podcast episode where we recently released an author named Jay Papasan. We haven’t released it yet, but it’ll be released after this one comes out. He talks about the 1 thing. He wrote a book with Gary Keller, about focusing in on 1 thing at a time. I think it’s such a valuable concept. Sounds like, that’s a little bit what happened for you guys. You said “Okay, this is going to be our 1 thing.” What does that look like? What are the first actionable items that you focus on, and the first steps that you take?
Dustin Baier: We knew video was going to be a key part. We basically said, “Going forward, we’re going to produce less content, but we want video to be a part of it.” We started doing that.
Bjork Ostrom: Why was that?
Lacey Baier: Why was that?
Dustin Baier: I knew that, video was just growing and growing. Being on the tech side and in the …
Lacey Baier: Advertising.
Dustin Baier: Advertising world and start-up world, I knew there was a lot of stuff that was up-and-coming, 2 years ago, even more so than YouTube had been, 5 to 7 years ago or whatever. I knew that, it’s also the best form of engagement. It’s just like podcasts show that people can hear people’s voices and talk, and connect with people better than the written word can. Video shows both. You can see people and you can talk to them, or hear them talk. It was this way to connect. I knew that going forward, I wanted to make sure that as we added in content, that it was either going to be video or podcast-based. Some sort of more engaging content. That way we could get more people on the site, people communicating, build a better audience.
Bjork Ostrom: Different type of engagement.
Lacey Baier: Yeah.
Dustin Baier: Deals and all that kind of stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Did either of you have video experience before making this decision and saying “Hey this is something that we want to do?”
Dustin Baier: No.
Lacey Baier: Not a bit. No.
Bjork Ostrom: How do you go about doing that?
Lacey Baier: We were fortunate that my camera had video capabilities.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is a start.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. It was not part of the purchasing requirements, when we bought it.
Dustin Baier: Then we were just going to figure it out. It’s one of the things I’ve never, personally I’ve never had an issue with. Maybe that’s a software developer in me, but I always feel like, if there’s something that’s important enough and you care enough about it, you can research it enough, to start to figure it out. Then, no matter how bad you are, there’s room to improve. Just keep iterating on it and make yourself better.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. It’s a great answer. Maybe the paraphrase is, “Google and learn.” There’s so much that you can do, when you commit to learning something. I think it’s a encouragement to people to hear, that you just jumped in and said, “Neither of us have any experience with this, but we know that we can press record on our video camera and figure out ways to get better along the way,” which is so much of what it is, is taking that first step forward. Then like you said, iterating and improving along the way.
Lacey Baier: That’s a huge piece. Like failing fast and learning from that, and being okay with … It took a while, to be okay with the video.
Dustin Baier: The first video, Lacey didn’t want to be in front of the camera. The first video, my brother recorded and it’s me …
Lacey Baier: I recorded it.
Dustin Baier: You recorded it. Yeah.
Lacey Baier: We both did.
Dustin Baier: I was the one cooking.
Bjork Ostrom: You played the role of hand model or Chef, in that one.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. The one and only video that he’s done. I guess, you helped with a few of them.
Dustin Baier: In one video, I throw cheese around the kitchen.
Lacey Baier: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Which undoubtedly, is a critical role in that video.
Lacey Baier: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: When you made that change. When you decided that you were going to go all in on this and really start to focus in on the blog, what do you feel like, were some of the mindset changes that you had to make, in order to feel comfortable working on the blog, and committing to building it as a business?
Dustin Baier: I did a bunch of research on the length of term of success. I went back and looked at your guys’ site and Pat Flynn. John Lee Dumas is a little bit crazy, as far as how fast it happened. People like that and saying, “So, how long does it take? If you really commit, how long does it take, to go from the moment you’re invested in it, to what I would call, successful which is basically, enough to pay 1 or 2 people’s salary?” It seems like, it takes 2ish years.
I was like “Okay, if we go into this, then that means, sure it could happen faster. It might be a little bit slower, but we have to say we’re going to go down this road for 2 years and have a monetization strategy attached to that.” You can’t just go aimlessly for 2 years. It’s from the point when you see, “Okay, we have some sort of strategy and we’re iterating forward on that strategy.” Then it takes 2 years to see fruition. That’s when you’re starting from, let’s say, nothing. It’s different if you’re doing, just a new project and you already have an audience base and all that kind of stuff.
Lacey Baier: It gets easier.
Dustin Baier: It gets easier.
Lacey Baier: Less time.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, and less time.
Bjork Ostrom: Having an audience and people that are receptive to your message, makes a really big difference.
Dustin Baier: Yeah.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. It took us a little bit of time, in conjunction with this video change, we also rebranded, A Sweet Pea Chef as well. We realized that, we had become tired of making and testing cinnamon rolls everyday, and throwing them out because we were so tired of this stuff. Meanwhile, Dustin and I had started eating healthier and following more of a clean lifestyle.
I realized, and Dustin was in agreement that, “We need to portray on the blog, what we’re passionate about at home, otherwise there’s going to be that disconnect." We were able to really start focusing on … At first we actually considered leaving, A Sweet Pea Chef and starting a new site, but we pulled our audience and asked a lot of questions. Everybody was really on board with the idea, from our surveys that we sent out. We started really rebranding.
That gave us a new jump start as well. Just this fresh, new idea of making food healthy with video as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How did you do the polls or the surveys? What did that process look like? I think it’s a valuable thing for people to hear.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. They were several pieces to it. One was, slowly introducing healthier topics and content, and seeing how that performed. Then the other part was, we had an audience, our email list is about 10K. At the time …
Dustin Baier: At the time, it was 7 or something.
Lacey Baier: At the time, it was 7. We sensed … Over the course of 3 months, we sent a couple of surveys and asked how they would … You probably remember this better than I do. You go ahead and talk. I’m going to shut up now.
Dustin Baier: We had a business coach who, we decided to make that investment as part of this strategy idea. It was like, “We need someone who knows how to monetize sites and has a lot of experience in that area.”
Bjork Ostrom: How did you find that person?
Dustin Baier: I used to listen to Internet business Mastery because Pat Flynn recommended it, a long time ago.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. For those that aren’t familiar, it’s a common name. Can you talk a little bit of about, who Pat is and what his site is?
Dustin Baier: Okay, yeah. Pat Flynn runs Smart Passive Income, which is basically just a site on how to have a online presence. He goes through a lot of different things, like how to do affiliates or basically, make money quasi-passively, online.
Lacey Baier: He’s been very successful at it.
Dustin Baier: He’s been very successful at it. Way back when we found him, he actually lived very near us, in San Diego. He resonated with us, and that time frame of our life. He had found this podcast called Internet business Mastery, which is basically an Internet business podcast that was one of the first, if not the first one. It was available back when podcasting first got started. It was 2 guys on there, named Jeremy and Jason. They had a coaching program that we took, called The Automated Income Machine which was basically, just about how to automate, generating revenue.
It was expensive. We invested in it, and part of that investment was the ability to talk with Jason. Over a few years now, I guess, get to know Jason on a personal level. Get his feedback on things, when I have problems with having something not work right or what are my expectations and those kinds of things. Setting up sales funnels.
One of the things he suggested was, “Find people, interview them and other sites that resonate with you. Then try to model their business model to a certain degree.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. The idea of reverse engineering. Everybody who has built something, has followed a path. If you can figure out what that path is, it makes it a lot easier to get to wherever it is that, that person is.
Lacey Baier: Yeah, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Dustin Baier: Part of that process is, serving your audience. You don’t just decide, “Today I’m going to start a fitness site on this site that has a bunch of people that aren’t expecting fitness.” You want to reach out to them.
We used SurveyMonkey and basically, we asked a bunch of questions, some of which I came up with and some of which Jason came up with, to basically say, “What type of content do you want to see on the site?” It’s very similar to the one you guys just sent out, where it’s like, “Do you want to see more photographs? Do you want to see more fitness posts? Do you want to see more food blogging posts?” Asking all those questions and getting feedback. We really tailored it to be around … The first one anyway, around the food content because we knew that we were tired of focusing on, just from scratch recipes and really wanted to focus on healthy, clean eating recipes. Something that we were passionate about, and knew that long-term, that would make us happier.
We asked the audience that, and they resoundingly responded. “We want clean food. We want healthy food. We want to know how to make this healthy. We want to know how to meal plan better. We want to know" … Basically, just gung ho, super excited about it.
Lacey Baier: It was really cool.
Dustin Baier: We then followed it up with this concept of, we’re calling Make it Healthy, where we just ask the audience, what’s one of their favorite recipes that they want to have a healthy version of. We got hundreds of responses with all these different great ideas of how to make stuff healthy. They’re like, "Oh, we want to know a healthy mac and cheese, which was the one Lacey wound up choosing, to make. There’s also, how to make banana pudding. You can get … Your audience will tell you what they …
Bjork Ostrom: The questions they have or the content they’re looking for. I think that’s a great insight. We actually have that survey as part of the autoresponder series for Pinch of Yum. People are always contributing back into it. It’s been one of the things. I think I’ve mentioned this in the podcast before, but one of the things we found out that was so interesting is, the type of grocery store that people shop at. That’s really shaped, how Lindsay talks about recipes or what ingredients she uses. Knowing that, people aren’t necessarily going to a Whole Foods, where they can get these special type of ingredients. Vast majority of people are, maybe going to a more mainstream grocery store like a super Target.
Lacey Baier: Okay. That’s a really good point.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I’d encourage people that are listening to this, to set that up. You can do that, just with a free version of SurveyMonkey or Hotjar’s a course that we have on Food Blogger Pro that we really like. They have a survey tool which is really great. I think that’s cool.
You know that you’re going to do this rebrand. You’ve talked to your audience. You’ve had a little insight from them. They say “Hey, stay the course, but we like this idea of the shift that you’re making.” You feel encouraged by that. Then, what do the next steps look like? You had mentioned this idea of a business plan. I don’t think you said business plan, but essentially the path that you’re going to follow or the general strategy that you have. Is that something that you sit down and you wrote out and said, “Here’s our strategy. We’re going to stick to this,” then you just hit the ground running?
Dustin Baier: Jason’s course walked through a lot of the different pieces that you put together, in almost any business. When you don’t know anything about it. 5 years ago, when we were just having a food blog, it was like, “You don’t know to think of it like that. You don’t know to have an intro offer that’s cheaper. That’s your lead magnet.” You get people in with something free, then you give them something really low-priced that provides insanely high amounts of value. Then, once they know, like and trust you, then you have another, either it’s a recurring membership like Food Blogger Pro is, or it’s some sort of higher end offer. That’s where you actually make your living, typically.
Lacey Baier: All under the understanding that you’re solving their problem, and they’re stoked on that.
Bjork Ostrom: That, maybe ties back to the survey thing a little bit. There’s this constant back and forth between adjusting to figure out, what are the things that people are trying to figure out, and what are the problems that people are trying to solve? Simultaneously adjusting the content that you’re creating, in order to suit and meet those needs that people have.
I think that applies, whether it’s course content, so education material or whether it’s more of software as a service for instance. We’re in the process of building some tools. We’re trying to figure out, what is the problem that people are trying to figure out, and what are the problems that people are trying to solve? How can we create this in a way that helps solve that?
It makes sense because if you don’t, then people aren’t going to have any interest in purchasing something. If they do, then they’re going to be like, "Well this is dumb and it’s not what I needed.” They’re going to go away.
Lacey Baier: That played a really big role also, in … I think why our videos have been successful is because people really appreciate how we walk through every step and we give options. “If you want to do this, you could do that,” and make it really clear. That’s one of the feedbacks that we get a lot is, “Thank you for making it seem so doable.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. Let’s talk about the video stuff, a little bit. That’s an area that you guys have really focused in on. You’ve spent a lot of time doing. I think it’s so smart. We think that video is going to become increasingly more important, as bandwidth becomes more readily available and people are watching videos from their phones, blah, blah, blah. We know that story.
You guys knew that. You started to do video, a little bit more. Can you talk about, what that looks like for you right now? Do you shoot the videos yourself? What is the process for a video? One of the things that you had said earlier was, you knew that you didn’t want to have stressful shoots. You wanted to make it as stress-free as possible. What’s your advice for people in the video space?
Dustin Baier: If you’re just getting started, I would say just be comfortable with the fact that your first your videos are going to be embarrassing. It’s the same thing as … I forget who says it, but you get that first version of your product out there. “If you’re not embarrassed by it, then you didn’t put it fast enough.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, on LinkedIn. Yeah.
Lacey Baier: Yeah, right.
Dustin Baier: If you see the Pan-Roasted Salmon video on our channel, that’s the first video with Lacey in it. That took 3 different shooting days, shooting differently, and about 2.5 months of editing time.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. A lot of money was spent on salmon.
Dustin Baier: Finally I just had to say, “This is your last chance. This is going up.” How happy you guys are, with it. Sean does all of our … Sean’s my brother. He does all of our video shooting and editing now.
Lacey Baier: He never had touched a DSLR, before this happened. He’s pretty …
Dustin Baier: He’s pretty creative.
Lacey Baier: Artistic and creative. He learned everything from what we …
Dustin Baier: He wound up buying a Canon, just to start doing this. The whole process is essentially, I do most of the brainstorming of concepts and ideas. What we think will do well, SEO wise or social media wise. Then, once I have a good list, I go with Lacey and we have a little bit of back and forth of … She fights for some of the stuff she wants to do. I fight for some of the stuff I think will generate more revenue or traffic for us.
Lacey Baier: Right. Then I have to share, “Oh well, tumeric’s so hot right now.”
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Dustin Baier: Then we’ll come up with typically, we usually shoot 2 days a week. One of the days is just for A Sweet Pea Chef stuff. One of the days is just for contract work that we have now, of creating video.
Bjork Ostrom: I should know this, but are you guys both working on this, full-time? Dustin, are you still doing software?
Dustin Baier: Yeah, I still have my job. Right now, Sean and Lacey are full-time.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. We just recently … I’m trying to remember where this was, that I talked about it. This idea of the intentional shift. I think that’s so smart. I would assume that long-term, would your hope be, to be doing it full-time or do you think that you’d like to do the balance of day job as well as the side hustle thing as well? For you, Dustin?
Lacey Baier: Dustin likes to stay busy.
Dustin Baier: I like to stay busy. It’ll all boil down to, how busy I can stay and how happy I am, with what I’m doing. I’ve been doing the start-up developer thing now, long enough to, where I have a lot of friends that are in it, that do cool things. If I do think about leaving, there’s always that pang of, “Oh, I’m going to leave all these people behind, that I like.” Not see the start-up to be successful.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s a lot easier, and that was the same case for Lindsay and I. We were leaving jobs that we loved. What ended up happening was, it was just this really drawn-out process where it was like, we were full-time and then it’s like, we were 30 hours a week, and then we were 25 hours a week. It was this very slow shift, for me at least. For Lindsay it was that, a 1-year in between and then jumped into it, full-time. Your brother, Dustin. Brother-in-law, Lacey, is doing this full-time for you guys.
Dustin Baier: Yeah.
Lacey Baier: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: He’s doing all of the video work. Is that right?
Lacey Baier: Yeah. He shoots the videos and edits them.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. Obviously, you’re paying a salary of somebody on your team, and then you’re supporting yourselves as well. You don’t have to give exact numbers, but I’m curious in terms of the business structure right now, where’s the majority of the income from this site, coming from? Is it sponsored content? Ads? What is the general percentage split look like?
Dustin Baier: I would say, it’s about 50%, the contract video work we do and 50% specific tied to ASPC. That number is typically over $10,000 a month, but sometimes it can be almost 20. The ASPC side of things is, there’s a bunch of ad revenue that comes in. There’s the sponsored content and then there’s our services, products and services.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. I would love to jump in and talk about that, a little bit. Some of the products and services and also some of the sponsored content because I think people would really be interested to hear about that. Before I do though, there’s a question that I’ve been bouncing around in my head as we’ve been talking about. I want to address this because I think it’ll be valuable for people to hear us process through it.
One of the things that I think, can start to be communicated or it can feel like is, in order to do this thing, to build a blog or a business, especially in the food space, that it has to be a 2-person deal. Typically it’s like, there’s somebody on the tech end who is taking care of, maybe monetization and the, maybe website management. Then there’s somebody on the content side. That’s really true for Lindsay and I. It’s this weird, really cool thing where it’s like, I definitely couldn’t do what we do, if it wasn’t for Lindsay. The content side of it is so, so, so important. I think Lindsay would say the same thing, where the tech and the income side, obviously is important for the business as well.
There’s this interesting balance between the 2. I really like it because it’s like, neither one of us can ever be, "All of this is because of me”. It’s totally a 50–50 thing. Realistically, more of the content side. The content has to be there, in order for it to happen.
What I’m interested to hear you talk about, and maybe us process through is, what does somebody do, if they are just one of those people? I would assume that, most people listening to this are leaning towards the content side. How do people engage with, what they do? Build a business, while not necessarily having the interest or skills on the business side? I think people can adopt those and learn those, but you guys have any ideas around that? Maybe ideas around, what would be the most important things to implement or the most important things to get somebody to mentor you on? It’s a big question, but does that make sense?
Lacey Baier: Yeah, it does.
Dustin Baier: It’s going to boil down a lot to, which skill set you’re good at or you’re not.
Lacey Baier: He’s saying, if they are on the content side.
Dustin Baier: Are we talking content, like let’s assume it’s a food blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We’ll assume that they really enjoy, let’s say, writing, photography and could potentially do basic video stuff. Maybe they’re not super pro video, but they’re able to do that stuff. How do you engage with and build and work towards a thriving business, when maybe that’s not the tech side or the monetization or accounting or all of that stuff isn’t your sweet spot?
I’ll say this as one more rambling as I go on here. The other thing I wanted to acknowledge is, they’re so many people that are doing that. I just want to acknowledge that. There’s a lot of single founder, whether it’s a blog or a website, that have built something really successful, just on their own. It doesn’t have to be a partnership, but so often with a partnership, you’re able to scale quicker. You’re able to build more content.
Lacey Baier: Can build off of each other’s strengths.
Dustin Baier: Scaling is really what helped us because with Sean doing the video stuff, I’m learning how to do the editing and all of that stuff. That freed us up to do other things. Since I work full-time, there wasn’t as much pressure in the beginning, on Sean and Lacey, to generate revenue.
Lacey Baier: We were more able to just play around and learn how to do video and stuff.
Dustin Baier: How to build an audience. Especially this third time around for us. For me it was like, I knew it was going to be 2 years before I saw my investment come back. Whereas, in the beginning, the first few times we tried this, it was like, “Why am I not seeing income coming in right away?” I guess I would say …
Lacey Baier: I think to some degree, it’d be easier to be by yourself.
Dustin Baier: We run into the situation where one of us is always waiting on some other one of us, for something. Usually it’s me waiting on the 2 of them because they’re so much busier.
Bjork Ostrom: With that, one of the things that you say … Lacey, when you were saying, a little bit easier, you mean because you can just move forward, a little bit quicker? You don’t have to wait on somebody else?
Lacey Baier: Yeah. I think that’s what Dustin’s problem is, with having the team is that, he’s always so fast. He’s waiting on us to finish things. I think another issue that’s kept us from moving forward is, we all have opinions and we all have priorities. A lot of times, those don’t line up. We always can … We’ve learned now, how to really focus and prioritize, really what essentially is the biggest priority. We got caught up a lot on people’s fears, about putting video out or.
Dustin Baier: There were too many times where I would let Lacey and Sean, let’s say, derail the game plan because they were concerned about something from an artistic perspective. Now I know, more to be, “Does this tie back into revenue? Does this help the audience? Okay, move on. If it doesn’t help our audience and it doesn’t help us in any way, then really we shouldn’t be wasting so much time about the color of X in this video or something.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, to not get caught up on the small stuff.
Dustin Baier: Yeah. Sean is definitely very artistic in that sense, and really cares about … It’s good because he’ll push back on things and be like “No, this is going to make a better product.” Now we know how to have that back and forth. It definitely impedes in the beginning, when you’re learning how to work with a team. It impedes, just making a decision and moving forward.
Lacey Baier: Yeah, and all ruminating about things. Also I feel that each one of us on our 3-person team, provides a role that the other person doesn’t really know how to do. You’re saying the content versus the tech side. Sean will show us stuff about what he’s doing in Premiere Pro and After Effects. We’re like, “Huh?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. That’s cool.
Lacey Baier: Neither of them cook.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s say that somebody is … I want to stay with this, a little bit because I think it’s interesting. Let’s say, somebody is on that content side. They like the food side, they like the photography, they like the content creation. What is the first thing that they should do, if they’re interested in building their site as a business, and they don’t have somebody directly connected to them, that could come on board and help with it? Do you have any advice for that first, maybe it’s like bringing on a CPA? In your case, you guys both went out and said "Hey, I’m going to bring in a business coach.”
What does that look like, for somebody that’s a single founder or maybe it’s somebody working in a partnership? Somebody that’s content-focused. What are some of the first things that they can do, to have some momentum on the business side of things? Do you have any recommendations? I know it’s a little bit hard because you don’t know exact skill set, but just.
Dustin Baier: I feel like, one of the easy things is go over. It depends on, if you have an audience or not. If you have a little bit of an audience, then I would say, you can easily do, reach out to brands that really align with your audience and your message. Basically be like “Hey, I love your brand. Why it’s great.” Whatever it actually is providing, as long as it aligns with who you are and who your website is. That’s how we started getting sponsorship deals, was basically …
Lacey Baier: It didn’t take any extra technical usage. It just, through acquired, just sending an email and then making it work from there.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I think it’s such a simple next step, this idea of “Okay, what’s the first step that you can take, if you have a little bit of a following? If you have some engagement to start working on the business side. Hey, start reaching out to brands.” Is that something that … This is maybe, a good segue into some of the sponsored content stuff. Is that something that you guys are doing or is the sponsored content you’re coming in, more inbound? Then, what is that sponsored content around? Is it primarily video? Is it blog posts, social media?
Dustin Baier: Everything we do now, we try to attach a video to it. Everything new. We do 2 posts a week, with a video. A lot of the sponsored content stuff, some of it has been inbound, some of it has been outbound. We don’t have so many of it happening that we’re just, “Okay, we’re just going to set that on autopilot.” There’s a few brands and things that Lacey really likes and would love to do work with. We reach out to them occasionally, to see if there’s a fit yet, kind of thing.
As we’ve gotten larger, which over the last 6 months has been insane, growth wise. That obviously puts a little bit of a dampener in it because you get a lot of inbound stuff that just doesn’t fit, what you are.
Bjork Ostrom: Especially when you’re clean eating, real food. There’s a lot of … The hard part is, a lot of the budget comes from primarily, processed foods brands. They have a really big budget. “Can you do a Twinkie’s recipe?”
Lacey Baier: Exactly. Let’s pair a Dr Pepper with Twinkies.
Dustin Baier: As much as I love Dr Pepper, and in a different life, would have totally been a sponsor for Dr Pepper. I’ve probably drank enough Dr Pepper in my life, to put a lot of people to shame.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, maybe not the best fit now, but if you had maybe a college food blog, that would have been a better fit.
Lacey Baier: We’ve definitely, like Dustin was saying, we’ve really isolated a list of 20 options that would be our ideals, if we could work with this. It doesn’t have to be food related and it doesn’t have to be a natural ingredient. It can be an appliance or something that we use a lot, often. What is it that basically, I can completely recommend to people, to use in their homes. What I feel comfortable with.
Dustin Baier: We try to always have it tie back. We don’t try now. Now it’s a requirement. In the beginning, it wasn’t as important because we weren’t as aligned with health.
Lacey Baier: The clean eating.
Dustin Baier: Clean eating and healthy eating. Now it’s like, it’s got to have some sort of healthy component to it. Even if it’s not clean, it has to have some sort of benefit to our audience. We actually have a large audience that’s dairy free. Even if the food isn’t, doesn’t fall under the clean eating brand, at least then it has to have some sort of dairy free component or something. That way we can say “Hey, here’s a good substitute for X, if you can’t have something that has dairy in it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Lacey, do you have any encouragement or recommendations for people that are struggling or scared to get in front of the camera? How do people move to a place where they can start to feel comfortable? Not only pressing record, but also pressing publish?
Lacey Baier: Oh man, even written posts were scary to press publish, at first. Doing video, I fought it for so long and I was so afraid of it because I’m a very … In a different life, I was a perfectionist. I wanted things to be perfect. I wanted to look like I knew what I was talking about. I knew everything and all that. You just have to let that go and be who you really are.
Dustin Baier: Video is just so permanent too, which is different for posts because you can go back and edit it. It’s like sending an email. You can’t take it back.
Lacey Baier: Really, I have found after … We’ve opened ourselves up pretty good, with transparency with all our videos and we’ve made fun of ourselves and stuff. I’ve learned that people love it. We add bloopers in, on the end of our videos because I, undoubtedly will say something stupid when I’m recording.
Dustin Baier: Sometimes we have the baby in the background and forgot he was there, swinging.
Lacey Baier: That’s what people say, how much they like those. I think that if you just hone in on what makes you special and unique and helpful to people. You remember that, it’s not about you, it’s about what you’re giving to these people and to your audience and how you’re solving the problems. Shoot, you’re doing something that’s awesome and doing these videos of cooking, then just try to let it go.
Dustin Baier: The other thing I would say is, you don’t have to be in front of the camera, to add video to a food blog.
Lacey Baier: Half of our video has, is just hands. That’s performing really well on Facebook and Instagram right now.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I was going to ask is, I’ve seen that your Facebook page has grown substantially. Is that one of the areas of growth that you were talking about, Dustin, when you said? What does that come from? I’m curious to know?
Dustin Baier: Basically, we’ve gotten really good at creating viral food videos. I don’t know if you’ve seen, but there’s a few of the videos that are on that page, that have millions of views now. We iterated on it, enough and the process enough, to be “Okay, if people just want hands, they want a fast pace, they want some fast catchy music.”
Lacey Baier: They want a specific solution for food as well. You pair it all together and that’s become really successful for us on Instagram. We went from 200 followers on Instagram last year, to we’re almost at 50K.
Bjork Ostrom: Would you attribute most of that, to video?
Lacey Baier: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Any other quick tips for people that are thinking about starting to do that more, or things that have worked? You don’t have to give away all your secrets, but just some things that you’d recommend people do, if they’re looking to create content for Facebook or Instagram?
Dustin Baier: I would just basically … The steps I always look at, are iteration. Put out 3 that are different and try to tie them to other people who are being successful, whether that’s us or whether that’s, you look at Tasty or Tastemade or whoever the big heavy hitters are. See what they’re doing. Do that in your own style, in your own way, with your own food. Then see which ones do well and do more of those.
It’s like in 80–20 rule. You find the stuff that’s working, and you try to do more of that. Then, as you get better and better at that, you’re going to have more and more success with it. You’re going to be able to see it, even if you don’t describe it as much as you would like to, you can basically be like “Okay, I know this one is very similar to this one. Our expectations are high for this.”
Then, don’t waste your time doing the other stuff. You only have so many hours in the day. Don’t go and do one that, just because it’s like next in your queue, make sure that this is going to meet those criteria, which is something we’ve gotten a lot better at.
Bjork Ostrom: Go ahead Lindsay, yeah.
Lacey Baier: To add on to that also. I realize that I spoke a little bit too soon. I think it’s video is a huge reason why our sites have grown so much. It’s also in that, is this useful to our audience? Is this something that they’re going to find helpful?”
I remember, maybe 7 months ago, I was going through posting things because I had to keep up a schedule. Dustin was like, “What are they going to get out of this? Why do they care?” Just having that in your head when you’re sharing this, with everything you do for your audience. Is this something that’s going to be helpful for them, that you would actually be happy if you saw it on someone else’s site?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think that’s such a good point and it’s an important reminder that, even if you have a content calendar, it doesn’t make sense to just pump out content just so you can cross it of your, to-publish list. It’s like 3 posts a week. If it’s stuff that not really helping anybody or engaging in any way, it doesn’t really matter. It could be 1 post a week or 1 post a month. If it’s the most helpful, insightful post, that’s going to be a lot more impactful than opposed to content that’s thrown together.
Lacey Baier: Exactly. That’s the value you can provide.
Dustin Baier: That 1 post a week thing is something we actually did. When we were slammed with the 3 posts and stuff, and we weren’t happy. When we started to back up, we started with 1 post. “We’re going to do 1 post a week because that’s all we know, we can deliver at the quality we want to deliver it at.” Now we’re to 2 a week and we want to get to 3. We were like, “We want to make sure we have a video tied to it.” We did the 1 a week, then we went to 2. The second one was a how-to video, so it was a little bit easier to do. Then we upgraded it to a recipe. You know what I mean? You just keep iterating. As you get better at it, you can fit in more of stuff that you are good at, and that’s working.
I would recommend going back to the starting block and just remove everything and then say “What’s working?” Okay, add that in. Okay, add a little bit to that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s that constant balance between adding and subtracting. Okay, put this in. This is helpful. What happens if we take this out? Does that have any impact? Maybe you can remove something and nothing is that different because you’ve removed it. Little did you know, you were doing it, just to do it. I think that’s great insight.
There’s one more thing that I want to talk about. We’re coming to the end here. I’d be interested to hear you guys talk a little bit about your Academy. What was that process like? I know that people, a lot of times have thought about building some type of membership site or some type of recurring revenue product. Is that what the Academy is, for you guys? How did you build that? Tell me all about it.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, basically it was looking at Food Blogger Pro and another site called Screw the Nine to Five. Finding people that we resonated with, that had a cool membership piece to it, where we could solve this big health food, fitness problem for people. Give them a place to come and work towards the healthier them, that they wanted to do. That was part of it. It was also adding that recurring revenue, so that we weren’t so caught up in having to have sponsorships or contract work, to make a living.
Lacey Baier: We started by providing a 1-time, 30-Day product, that was called 30-Day Healthy, where I walk people through. I gave them daily emails and meal plans and all that kind of stuff about how to really start eating clean and take back your health. That resonated with people. Once they got to that end of that 30 days, they were like “Okay, now what?”
This Academy provides that continual community and support and ongoing … We have monthly pillars, where we share … We have the live Q&A that I just did today. Then every week, we have something new. New fitness routines and stuff. Always giving them, that little next step that they can take, to keep taking back their health.
Dustin Baier: Just a place to have as an outlet. To ask a question about, “What kind of peanut butter should I buy, if I want to have healthy peanut butter?” A lot of people don’t know that answer. You get caught up in … When you’re 2 to 3 years down whatever path you take, you’re more of an expert than you realize. Other people don’t have that same knowledge.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. A lot of times, it’s those most basic questions that are most helpful to people, especially when they’re just starting out.
Lacey Baier: Yeah. Now that we’ve grown so much, and replying to comments on Facebook and Instagram has become pretty difficult, given the volume. Having the community where I can just really help the people one-on-one has been really cool because I love that engagement and that connection as well. I feel like that’s something that, as we’ve gotten bigger, lost a little bit.
Dustin Baier: Yes. It’s definitely, that part’s been a stressor. I’m sure you guys went through that phase too, where …
Lacey Baier: I can’t reply to everybody.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, right. Exactly, for sure.
Dustin Baier: Such pride in getting back to everybody. Then in 3 months’ time it was like, literally impossible.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that one thing, a mindset that I’ve tried to adapt, adapt to, or a mindset that I’ve tried to adopt or I’ve adapted to it. You can use either one, is this idea that, there’s a balance with it. I really want to prioritize, getting back to people. At the same time I know that, if I were to individually reply to everybody, there’s this reality of not creating content that would be a 1-way communication, but nonetheless communication with a broader audience.
This podcast is an example. If I were to reply to every comment and email and communication request that I get, I potentially could be doing that all day. Would have a lot of little micro-interactions, but it prevents you from doing the broad, micro-interactions. I think when I shifted that mindset a little bit, I started to realize “Okay, I feel more justified in passing that off to a team member.”
The answer can still get passed along, but maybe it’s not coming directly from me. Like you said, it’s really hard to do that.
Lacey Baier: Yeah.
Dustin Baier: We’re at that stage where we don’t have the revenue to hire someone else too. It’s like, you feel like they’re not getting answered. The solution we’ve had is, to batch reply to comments on the site, and emails. We snooze them all to one. Lacey can get to, as many as she can get to, in an hour or something. On the social channels like Instagram and Facebook now …
Lacey Baier: It’s just gone, before you …
Dustin Baier: Yeah. It’s gone and it’s scrolled down. There’s 30 of them and then it’s like “Okay, well now, how do I know, who to reply to and stuff?”
Lacey Baier: Being able to just … There’s so many comments out there, that are awesome, that are just like, “Yum or great recipe.” I used to go and be like “Thanks” on everything. Now, I’m going in and replying to the ones that are asking questions that “Okay, I need to answer this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s good. It’s that constant battle that people have. If those that are listening, aren’t at that point. If you stick with it, you will be at that point eventually. You can at least start thinking about it.
One of the things that I wanted to ask about the Academy. It’s a recurring revenue site, which I think is so cool. Then I was looking through. You have a site called Married to your Business. Marriedtoyourbusiness.com. I’m guessing the idea behind this is, “Hey, as a married couple, here’s what it’s like doing a business together.”
Dustin Baier: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Dustin, I saw that you had, number 1, posted a screenshot and it was from Baremetrics, which is a company that’s a really cool, like a SaaS analytics company. Talk about your process of building that to $5000 monthly recurring revenue.
Dustin Baier: Yeah, that’s the goal anyway.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure, which is I think, an awesome point to get to. I’m curious, with that, what does that look like, for you? Do you guys do, like with Food Blogger Pro, we do an open and close that is always open. Then, what is it built on? Is it WordPress, and what does that look like?
Dustin Baier: Married to your Business is WordPress. The Academy itself is on IPS Suite, which is just like a forum software. Basically, the Married to your Business site is just more of my outlet to talk about …
Lacey Baier: Behind the curtains.
Dustin Baier: Behind the curtains of ASPC. One of the things we always struggled with, was … I don’t know, you’ve had this problem with the income reports is, so many people find them so helpful and so many people hate them.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The part of it is, there’s a little bit of a content disconnect which is maybe, a little bit of what you’re getting at. It’s on a food site, but it’s business-related content.
Dustin Baier: Lacey has never really liked that, the income stuff was tied to people that she’s really wanting to help. It was that problem there. Our solution was basically, to eventually, Lacey wants to do more photography workshop and video workshop kind of stuff. Talk about how she uses Instagram. Then, that which is a little bit more tied to the food blog side. Then, push towards Married to your Business, which then would be all the behind-the-scenes stuff for anyone who’s interested in it, which is where the income reports would be and stuff.
Lacey Baier: At some point, build that out to be …
Dustin Baier: At some point, it would probably have products and stuff. As of now, it was more about chronicling the journey of making A Sweet Pea Chef …
Lacey Baier: A business.
Dustin Baier: A business. Then, how do we grow recurring revenue, specifically the post that … Bjork’s talking about is, how do we chronicle revenue and show transparently, what it takes to get recurring revenue? There’s always this stressor at least for us, where you know this revenue is coming in because its ad revenue. It takes 90 days to get it forward.
You do the sponsorship deal and then you invoice them and then it takes 30 days to get that or whatever. I wanted something that we controlled more, that was recurring. Hence, why the Academy was built. We just basically use ClickFunnels and Stripe as our payment processing and checkout cart staff. Then that, Baremetrics just looks at you Stripe account and it just shows you what your recurring revenue situation looks like.
I always use that, when we have our weekly check-ins with Lacey and Sean. I say, “Hey, this is where we’re at. This is how much we’re getting.” That’s kind of stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s cool. The tools that you’re using for that, I think people find this interesting. Tools you’re using. It was IPS?
Dustin Baier: Yeah, so IPS. It’s Invision Power System, I believe is the name of it. I can give you the link.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we’ll put that in the show notes. It’s IPS, it’s ClickFunnels, which is marketing automationish-type software. Is that right?
Dustin Baier: Yeah. ClickFunnels is the best one I’ve found. You can make opt-in pages, you can make checkout carts. You can do all of that stuff, without having to get an SSL cert yourself and set everything up, to accept your own credit cards and stuff.
I recommend, if you’re just getting started, you probably use something at Gumroad. If you’re looking to create a membership site. If you don’t want to have to go pay people to build it, you can use something that’s a forum software which might be 25 bucks a month. Then you can use ClickFunnels, which is 100 bucks a month. That processes all of your credit card stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. To just explain the other ones. Stripe is the payment processor. You need something that actually …
Lacey Baier: Something underneath it.
Dustin Baier: It’s like PayPal. We just like it a lot better and don’t have as many problems with Stripe, as we’ve had in the past with PayPal stuff. That’s why we use Stripe.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. We do both PayPal and Stripe for Food Blogger Pro, and Stripe is just so much cleaner. It’s just the credit card processing and it’s really popular with developers. PayPal is maybe, a little bit more antiquated and there’s more …
Lacey Baier: Yeah. A lot of our community likes PayPal. We’ve had some complaints about that.
Dustin Baier: Yeah. We used to use both, when we used a different tool before ClickFunnels. The tool was unreliable, and so that’s why we switched to ClickFunnels.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Cool, that’s great. I think we could talk on and on here. I want to wrap up, to be respectful of your time. Before we do, curious, where can people follow along with, what you guys are doing? We mentioned a few different sites. You can review those. Obviously, social media as well. Where can people follow along with you guys?
Dustin Baier: The site’s, asweetpeachef.com, which is where all the new stuff goes out. Then, Lacey’s on Instagram all the time, which is Lacey Baier on Instagram.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, great. Then, Married to your Business as well.
Dustin Baier: Married to your Business is where you can get the business stuff from me, when I have time.
Lacey Baier: Take Back your Health, Academy. Exactly. We have a free community on Facebook that’s a closed group. Then we also have the paid membership.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, cool. We’ll be sure to include links to all those as well. Dustin, Lacey, thank you guys so much for coming on the podcast. Really appreciate it.
Lacey Baier: Thank you.
Dustin Baier: Thanks.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, really fun to talk to you. A big thank you to Dustin and Lacey for sharing their story in the podcast today. Keep up the good work guys. It’s been so fun to see you continue to grow what you’re doing. One more quick reminder, that we’re in the enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro. Just so you know, we have 2 really big public enrollments every year, where we let people know about, on the podcast and on Pinch of Yum. We have affiliates, share. You’ll probably see a lot of stuff here and there about Food Blogger Pro, at least from us, as we really encourage people to check it out and sign up.
If you’re listening to this before June 2, that’s when we wrap up enrollments. For sure, there’s less than 7 days to sign up. Hopefully you hear this before we officially close. We’d love for you to check that out by going to foodbloggerpro.com to learn more about, what is up with the membership. Again, if you haven’t checked out that previous episode, the one before this, 47.5, you can do that to learn a little bit more.
Thanks for tuning in every week and listening to the podcast. Hope you guys enjoy it. I’ll be back on Tuesday, next week, with another episode. Until then, make it a great week.