Welcome to episode 199 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Lindsay Ostrom about how she’s managing life, work, and her new normal.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Chris Schaeffer all about Google Ads. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
The State of Pinch of Yum
Today marks part one of a two-part series here on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast where we’re focusing on the states of two of our businesses – Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro.
Today’s focus is on Pinch of Yum. A lot has changed for Lindsay and her food blog these past few months. Lindsay now has a young daughter, she took a three-month maternity leave at the end of last year, and she’s now back at work three days a week.
Because of these changes, her schedule and workflow has had to change a bit, and that’s what she’s here covering today. She’ll talk about her new schedule, how she works most efficiently, and why photography and post templates are especially helpful for her to get her tasks done.
In this episode, Lindsay shares:
- What her schedule looks like now
- What takes away from her efficiency
- Her tips for recipe development
- What it’s like to work with a shoot assistant
- How she works with a photography template
- How she works with a blog post template
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Spotify:
- Destination Delish
- Photo Mechanic
- Adobe Lightroom
- Follow Pinch of Yum and Lindsay on Instagram
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, Bjork interviews Lindsay Ostrom from Pinch of Yum about how she’s managing life, work, and her new normal.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey hey hey, lovely listener. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Happy number 199. We’re doing things a little differently today, and actually, this episode marks the beginning of a two part series here on the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Next week will be our … Wait for it … 200th podcast episode. Can you even believe it? And to celebrate, we’re taking you behind the scenes of how Lindsay’s food blog, Pinch of Yum, and our food blogging membership site, Food Blogger Pro, are working right now.
Alexa Peduzzi: Today’s episode will focus on Pinch of Yum, and Lindsay is making her grand reentrance back on the podcast to chat through how her work, well, works, especially now that they have a young daughter, Solvi. Regardless of where you are in your blogging story, I think you’ll really be able to glean some helpful advice and recommendations from Lindsay in this episode.
Alexa Peduzzi: She has a keen understanding of how she works most effectively and how she gets done what needs to get done. We are just so excited to have her back on the show, so without any further adieu, Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay, welcome to the podcast.
Lindsay Ostrom: Hello. Thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Good to have you back. So, obviously you have been on the podcast before. I would like to publicly shame you by starting and saying you’re not a consistent podcast listener, which I’ve tried to recruit you to be a consistent listener, but at the same time, we probably end up talking about a lot of the stuff that we talk about on the podcast-
Lindsay Ostrom: Well, and I would like to interject-
Bjork Ostrom: … just over the dinner table.
Lindsay Ostrom: … and say that I have listened before, but sometime when you come home and you hear your own voice on the speaker at home, you’re like, “No, get that out of here.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, ’cause that has happened where you’ve been listening to it-
Lindsay Ostrom: I have been, right.
Bjork Ostrom: … on an Echo device that we have, and then I’m in the other room and that’s not okay.
Lindsay Ostrom: Not okay.
Bjork Ostrom: Too strange. Definitely is an earbud situation if you’re ever gonna listen to it. But good to have you back here. We’re gonna be talking about in episode 199, in episode 200, we’re gonna be talking about in 199, the state of Pinch of Yum, in episode 200, the state of Food Blogger Pro, and essentially it’s just a little update saying, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s the processes we use, mindset, tools, systems, things like that.”
Bjork Ostrom: It’s just a chance to step back and do a little update and let people know where we’re at, how we’re doing, how we’re doing things, and hopefully from that people can take away little actionable items or maybe a way to look at their work to kind of inform what they’re doing and help you, podcast listener, do what you’re doing a little bit better, which is one of the main reasons we do this podcast. We want to help you do what you’re doing.
Bjork Ostrom: So, the state of Pinch of Yum is a little bit different than it was a year ago, and a huge reason is because of our daughter, Solvi. So, do you want talk, Lindsay, a little bit about what your schedule is like and how you’re approaching work now that you have a new role, we both do, have this new role of parent and how that impacts what work looks like for you?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. So my schedule is kind of a work in progress and has been since Solvi was born, which she was born in September, so she’s about seven months old now. Maternity leave for about three months after she was born, so I came back to work at the end of December. Yeah. I have basically been trying to figure out my schedule ever since.
Lindsay Ostrom: Right now, what’s happening is we have a nanny and I work essentially three days a week. So, I work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and our nanny comes for about six hours I think, like 10:30 to 4:30 on those days. I just have a structure to my week where I’m kind of working through all the most important things. I do a tiny bit of work here and there on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m not technically “working” on those days, but for the most part I try to keep a pretty clear line.
Lindsay Ostrom: At this point in the game, she’s seven months old now, I feel like that’s an important thing for me to have those boundaries between now I’m working and now I’m not working. That didn’t exist in the beginning when I was just coming back to work and we didn’t have a consistent childcare routine. I sort of felt like the whole thing was muddy all the time. I actually think I talked about that on a Happening Now and just talked about that being a really messy season. Now I feel like I’m in a little bit of a cleaner season. So I work Monday, Wednesday, Friday essentially for six hours at a space outside of my house and then I’m home with Solvi on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. And for those that aren’t familiar, Happening Now, these are monthly updates that we do for Food Blogger Pro members and we talk about essentially what’s happening now. We do a monthly update and say, “Hey, here are the marketing tactics we’re implementing, maybe some of the productivity tools or ways that we’re changing our schedule, email, things that we’re updating.” Essentially, it’s just a time for Lindsay, for me, or for the Food Blogger Pro Pinch of Yum team to record a little video and say, “Here’s the stuff that we’re learning and the things that we’re implementing behind the scenes,” and Lindsay, as you referenced, talked a little bit about schedule and what that looks like for you on one of the Happening Now videos.
Bjork Ostrom: So, one of the things that I think is so interesting as it relates to work is I have this general belief that work expands to fit the time allotted, and so if you have 60 hours a week kind of wide open, you’re gonna kind of generally expand your work so it fits into that. And you’re in this phase where you have worked kind of artificially … Not artificially … Actually restricted. And so you have these time periods that have to be super intense. You have to get stuff done in those time periods, and you’ve had to, I’m guessing, develop a new way to approach your work.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that this is really important because whether people that are listening have a family, maybe they have a full-time job or a part-time job, or maybe they’re full-time blogging, they don’t have a family and they don’t have another job that they do, but they’re just trying to be efficient with what they’re doing. Any of those situations would be able to take some advice from the things that you’ve learned as you’ve transitioned into this new schedule because we want to be efficient with the time that we have and get as much done while not stretching it out over a long period of time, that work.
Bjork Ostrom: So, I’d be interested to hear you talk a little bit about how you’ve approached your schedule as it relates to getting the most amount of stuff done in a short amount of time and what that looks like from a content creation perspective. So, can you take us through your week, what that looks like, and then maybe break each day down, if that would help as well?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. So, this is kind of my current flow throughout the week. So, Monday I view as a recipe development day or just a kitchen day. Monday’s a day that I’m kind of testing recipes. I might try something new. I might stop at the grocery store, I might not, just depending on time if I need some inspiration, I need to just look at what’s there and what’s looking good, what’s in season. It’s a pretty loose day, but it’s an important day, as any content creator knows. You need time to just actually think about stuff and try stuff and experience stuff in order to have stuff to write about, good stuff to write about. So that’s kind of how I view Mondays.
Lindsay Ostrom: And then my goal is usually to kind of firm up whatever I’m gonna be writing about, whether it’s a recipe or whatever … I mean, it’s almost always a recipe, but kind of get the details of that all ironed out so that on Wednesday, I can do a shoot day. So Monday’s a recipe development day. Wednesday’s a shoot day where I’m doing photography. At the present time, we have a temporary space that we are using for our kitchen and just kind of my office area while we’re waiting on another office to be finished.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, our team comes over on Wednesday, so we have Jenna and Yan, and then Krista is our shoot assistant, so there’s multiple people. Wednesday’s kind of the busy day. So, I’m making recipes, Krista’s helping make recipes. We’re getting photos done, kind of working through all the stuff that was processed on Monday, and then Friday for me is a computer day.
Lindsay Ostrom: So if Monday’s recipe development, Wednesday’s a photo shoot, then Friday’s the day where I kind of put it all together. I edit my photos, I write the post. I am here at my workspace by myself so that I’m free of distractions. I’m just kind of polishing up all of the stuff that needs to happen on a computer. If Monday’s a kitchen day, Friday’s a computer day.
Lindsay Ostrom: I try to save tasks like calls or podcast interviews or emails or stuff like that, I try to save it for Friday because that’s my computer day and I have found the task switching to be really something that takes away from my efficiency. On Monday, if I’m just trying to try a bunch of recipes and I have a call scheduled in the middle of the day, that interrupts my flow a little bit, and so I find it much easier to just set some boundaries as much as possible and say, “Hey, I can do a call. I can only do it on Friday,” ’cause that’s the day that I have “office hours” where I’m at the computer. So that’s kind of the general breakdown of my week. To recap, Monday, recipe development and kitchen work, Wednesday, photography, photo shoot, and then Friday, posts and computer work.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. So let’s break down each one of those days to hear a little bit about how you are efficient within each category. So on Mondays, those are recipe days. How many recipes in general are you trying to get through in a given day in a six hour period?
Lindsay Ostrom: Oh, I mean, I would say I’m maybe trying to cook through two or three recipes. A lot of times, they’re recipes that I’ve actually made before, and so I’m just making them one more time either to actually officially write out the recipe, get it written on paper so it’s not just in my head, maybe to tweak something, to try something different. And then, I’m also a lot of times I’m using Mondays as my time to record some Instagram story segments of myself making those recipes.
Lindsay Ostrom: So it’s very rare that I would test a recipe on a Monday for the very first time and then turn around and shoot that recipe on a Wednesday. More often, it’s a week delay, if that makes sense. So the recipes that I’m testing this Monday would probably be recipes I’ll work through one more time next week and then shoot next Wednesday, because for me and probably a lot of listeners can relate to this, usually just making something once isn’t enough. You might have questions about, “Well, what happens if I do this at a higher temperature? What if I freeze it? What if I,” whatever change, substitute ingredients, something like that. So I like to try to leave a little bit of space, so it’s maybe less about, “And then I do it all, and then I do recipe one and two and shoot recipe one and two on Wednesday.” It’s more like this is just a day to be in the kitchen.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Lindsay Ostrom: So yeah, I would say two or three recipes.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say that you’re scheduling those or that it’s often not the first time you’re doing them, when are you doing those for the first time? Is that on the weekend or-
Lindsay Ostrom: Probably the week before.
Bjork Ostrom: Say it again.
Lindsay Ostrom: The week before. So it’s like a week delay. Okay. For example, today I might try a recipe today and then maybe this week at home sometime for dinner, I’ll end up making it again, and then maybe next Monday, I’ll make it one more time. That’ll be the time where I’m writing down all the amounts really specifically, paying close attention, I’m recording a segment for Instagram stories, and then Wednesday, that following Wednesday would be when I shoot it. Does that make sense? So it’s like a week behind.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So you’re usually doing a recipe maybe two, three times, worst case scenario, four times before you’re actually solidifying it and saying, “This is the recipe that I’ll publish on the blog.”
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. What are the things that help to make it more efficient on those Mondays? Are there things that help you from a recipe development standpoint be more efficient, tools that you use or ways that you write down a recipe, anything like that?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. Okay. I don’t know. This is me personally, which is what this podcast is about. Other people might have different success doing something different, but I find that I get very distracted by my phone or my computer. I get down the wrong trail. I start doing my Friday work if I open my computer to write things down. So I never write a recipe directly into a blog post on my computer. I always write it into a notebook. I just have a notebook in the kitchen, ’cause if I have my computer open and I have Slack pulled up … Slack is the communication app that we use within our team … If I have even my text messages, and then I might pull up Instagram and then I pull up the blog and, “Oh, there’s a few comments I’m gonna respond to,” and then suddenly, two hours have gone by and I’ve been doing all this other work that is legitimate work, but I’ve totally derailed the flow and the efficiency that I had going with just being away from my computer being in the kitchen.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, that’s something that’s super important for me and significant is really just keeping a notebook in the kitchen with a pen, and also printing off recipes. So if I’m working off of my own recipes for Pinch of Yum or if I’m trying somebody else’s recipe, I have much better success printing those off and bringing those into the kitchen with me than I do looking at them on my phone, because again, phone or computer, there are so many rabbit trails everywhere and my brain is such that I get very easily distracted and then suddenly a lot of time has gone by not doing the thing that I really needed to do.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Another thing that we had talked about is Instacart. Do you want to talk about what that is and why that’s helpful?
Lindsay Ostrom: So I use grocery delivery a lot too for efficiency, especially on those Mondays and Wednesdays, but for example, a great example is this morning. So I’m making a lemon pie recipe today and I needed all the ingredients and I hadn’t done it ahead, so literally this morning while I was at home … This was my morning … I laid Solvi down for a nap, I did the breakfast dishes, I pulled out my phone and went through and placed an order really quick at 9AM, placed an order for all these lemon pie ingredients, and I had it scheduled to come in like two to three hours. I got myself ready. I drove over to the space, this temporary workspace. I wrote a blog post and then the groceries showed up.
Lindsay Ostrom: So that’s a lot of stuff that I’m able to do, I mean, literally putting a full blog post together and also getting myself ready, getting myself over to work, whereas otherwise I would’ve been walking around the store probably, realistically, probably not knowing where I’m going, depending on what store I’m going to, if it’s a different store. There are just so many inefficiencies with the physical act of going to the grocery store that I just find ordering to be super efficient and helpful from a time perspective.
Lindsay Ostrom: Now, the things to consider would be if I need a very specific type of produce or something that has a certain look to it, this would especially be true for the photo shoot days, somebody will make a pickup, me, could be our shoot assistant. A lot of times it’s me, ’cause I know exactly what I’m looking for, but we might place an order for everything except the avocados because we know we need an avocado that’s not too ripe but just a little bit under ripe because of how we’re gonna cut it or something like that. So those kind of things can be a little bit tricky with grocery delivery.
Lindsay Ostrom: The other thing I will say is that from an inspiration standpoint, sometimes if I’m feeling really uninspired, I just need to go to the grocery store. That’s something that energizes me and that I enjoy doing. The only reason I don’t do it regularly is just from a time saving perspective. I would rather sit at my computer and write a post or test a different recipe or get any number of things done and be able to have my stuff come, especially when I’m working with such a limited time now that we have Solvi and our nanny’s only there for a short period of time.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). One question that I have on those Mondays is, let’s say you have a recipe and there’s a gap in between. Do you allow yourself, let’s say if something has to cook for an hour, to then do computer stuff? What does that look like for those in between periods of time?
Lindsay Ostrom: So it’s not like I lock the door. I have my computer in a different room here at this space, so it’s not like I lock the door to that office and only allow myself to stay in the kitchen. It’s more like, “Now I’m gonna work through these recipes.” I’m gonna do whatever I can to stay in that zone.
Lindsay Ostrom: If it’s the kind of thing where there is a long pause, or this morning when I’m waiting for groceries to arrive, I didn’t have any other recipe to test and I’m here, and yeah, I’m just waiting for them to arrive and I know that I will start recording … Recording. I said recording because we’re recording right now. I know that I will start working on the recipes as soon as they come for the rest of the day, but it’s like I have an hour then. It buys me an hour of extra time, and then I will catch up on some other stuff that I need to do.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Lindsay Ostrom: It’s more like once I’m cooking, once I start prepping ingredients and doing that stuff, I really try to keep the tech away.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. There’s all these studies that they’ve done on task switching and how hard it is to start one thing and then be distracted and then start another thing and then go back to the other thing you were doing, how much time you actually lose for that. I think that’s especially true for creative work. If you’re doing a recipe, developing a recipe, doing photography, if you’re a web developer, anything like that, to do task switching, you just lose so much time. So it makes a lot of sense to try and really protect that.
Bjork Ostrom: So talk about Wednesdays. Wednesdays are the days where you go in and you’re doing recipes again, but these are shoot days. I think what would be really interesting is to hear … So Krista, who’s been part of our team for a while, had a break where she was at home with family and then is able to come back now, which we were so excited about, but what is that like to work with a shoot assistant and what would your advice be for people who are looking to have somebody that can help on days where you’re doing photography and you’re wanting to get through a bunch of recipes, and what does that look like to have somebody who kind of helps with that process? Any advice around that?
Lindsay Ostrom: My advice is if you can swing it for like three hours, two hours, four hours, whatever you can do, one day a week, get a shoot assistant if you’re doing photography and if you are wanting to move through things more quickly.
Lindsay Ostrom: I will say the downsides of having a shoot assistant a schedule like what I’m describing is that you have a little less flexibility. You give up some of the, “Now I just do what I feel like doing.” I really need to have the recipes ready by Wednesday morning. I need to be pretty organized. I need to have those written out. I need to have them well-tested. I need to have them sent over to her. That kind of stuff, I need to have my ducks in a row, which is sometimes harder to do than it seems, for me anyways.
Lindsay Ostrom: But if you can get past those hurdles of having a little bit more rigidity in your schedule and getting yourself prepared in advance, it just makes all the difference in the world to have an extra set of hands, prepping ingredients, washing dishes, even holding something for a shot. For me, I don’t use a tripod, just because I like to move more freely with the camera, and a lot of times I’m like, “Oh, I just want this thing over here, but it’s kind of an awkward angle for me to hold that. Krista, can you just bop over here real quick and hold this?” Or, “Can you sprinkle this on while I’m taking a picture?” It would take me four times as long to do that if I were doing that by myself. It’s just really nice to have an extra person, not to mention helping with potentially getting groceries or making one of those specialty pickups that I was talking about for a specialty ingredient, helping with the dishes, doing some testing.
Lindsay Ostrom: There’s just so many things on a shoot day that having a shoot assistant could help with, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be someone that’s steeped in blogging knowledge. Krista, our shoot assistant, she does have a blog, Destination Delish, if you want to look her up, but it could be anyone. It could be if you have a neighbor that really loves to cook and they have a little bit of extra time or you have even a friend, or it doesn’t have to be someone in the space. It can be somebody that just likes to chop vegetables and wash dishes and talk to you while you’re cooking. I highly recommend it and I know for a lot of other bloggers that I’m friends with say it’s also kind of a game changer for them.
Lindsay Ostrom: So on a shoot day, we do I would say two recipes minimum. There is often some other stuff going on on the sidelines, like testing that doesn’t necessarily translate to photography, but I’m usually trying to shoot the two recipes that we’ll publish the following week. So, I’ve got those recipes tested from my Mondays prior, and Krista helps me to prep and cook through those. I just primarily focus on the photography. She’s cleaning up in the in between time, and then I’m just able to move through that so much more quickly.
Lindsay Ostrom: I think I’m able to free up my mind space, my brain space, to think more creatively, too, when I’m not feeling the time pressure quite as much. So it’s like somebody else is worrying about the fact that the bread needs to come out of the oven in five minutes. I can really sit and look at this scene that I’m photographing and really pay attention to detail and spend some more time trying to get it to look just the way I want it to look because that other stuff is taken care of.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How much are you communicating before you get together on Wednesday?
Lindsay Ostrom: So right now, this was kind of our schedule even before Solvi was born. We did Wednesday shoot days even when I was working a full week. At that time, prior to Solvi being born, when we were in our other studio, we did a lot of communication in advance. Actually, Krista would be the one to place the grocery order and I would send the recipes in advance, she would have them printed off. A lot of times even, there was a time where she was coming in the day before, so she was coming in on Tuesday and prepping a lot of the ingredients for stuff that we would then shoot on Wednesday.
Lindsay Ostrom: Now it’s a little bit different because of limitations with my schedule, having a nanny, having Solvi, having a new space that’s this temporary workspace that we’re operating out of, so for that reason, right now I still do the grocery order because I have to be the first person here during the day to let people in and kind of get things set up.
Lindsay Ostrom: So I’m still doing the grocery order, so it isn’t as important right now for us to communicate in advance. We don’t have that as a part of our … We’re kind of just getting back up and running with Krista being here as a shoot assistant. So that isn’t a huge part of what we’re doing right now, but I would say that it was a huge part of our process pre-Solvi. My hope would be that we would kind of move into that becoming more the norm again once we get a little more established in a new space.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great. That makes sense. Anything else on those days that is especially helpful in terms of the flow of things or even do you stack recipes? Do you do recipes at the same time or do you say, “Hey, we’re only gonna do this recipe, focus on this, make sure we get it right, and then do the next one”? Do they ever overlap? Any advice just in terms of working through the day and doing multiple recipes?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. They do overlap a little bit. I would say that’s one of the advantages of that advance communication, especially if you … We’re only doing two, which is not really that many compared to I think what a lot of people will do, which is they’ll work through a whole bunch of recipes in one day.
Lindsay Ostrom: So it kind of depends on how much advance planning you can do and advance communication, but right now what it looks like is Krista and I just kind of chat briefly. We have a little pre-shoot day check in where I say, “Hey, here’s the recipe. Here are the recipes. Here’s what I need to shoot for each of them,” so I’m communicating to her, “Hey, this one, I want to photograph this before it’s baked, so once you prep that, let me know and I’ll get that photo.”
Lindsay Ostrom: We used to even write some of that stuff out. That used to be in a lot of our advance communication in terms of what photos we’re gonna need to do. We just did one the other day where I needed to take a photo of every step of the recipe, but there was another recipe that I only needed one more shot of the end result. So I was like, “Hey, why don’t you start just prepping the elements, and then when I take the elements to photograph, then you can make this recipe all the way through and I’ll just get the end shot for it?”
Lindsay Ostrom: So I would say it’s a dance. It changes every time. There’s naturally gonna be overlap, but having some advance communication, even if it’s just the morning of, which is what it is for us right now, just taking 5 or 10 minutes to kind of talk through the goals for the day and what the flow might be, what might work best, that is super helpful, so that you don’t get to the end of the day and you’re like, “Oh shoot, I needed to do a lasagna,” which actually needs an hour to bake, an hour at the end of the day, and all that stuff. So, just helps to structure things in a way that flows really well.
Bjork Ostrom: You had talked about a few of the differences in the photos that you would need. One was every step along the way and then the other was just this final photo of the finished recipe. Do you have kind of an internal checklist of what you know you need to get as it relates to photographs for a blog post, and how does that change per recipe that you’re doing? Why does one recipe require something else than another one?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. Actually, that’s a great question. Good question, Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Thank you. I appreciate it. That’s kind of you to say that.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, yes, that’s a huge efficiency thing for me and I’m glad that you brought it up ’cause I feel like this might be kind of a game changing takeaway for people if you’re like me, okay? So me before was like, “I have the camera, I have the food. I’m just taking a bunch of pictures and still picking, and then I got a pretty good one, but I’m just gonna keep going because I need as many good photos as possible.” And then you spent two hours taking photos of which you use like five, of which only one is really gonna sell it, okay, is gonna be the popular one or whatever.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, with that in mind, I have really moved towards a predictable set, templated kind of shot list for a blog post, and that is a huge time saver for me. So, I don’t have to make decisions basically when it comes to the types of photos that I’m gonna get it. It’s like, “This is just what I get.” I get a before, I get a during, I get an after, I get this angle, I get the other angle.
Lindsay Ostrom: I can actually just walk you through what my shot list is. So I do an overhead, like an overhead angle, a flat lay, sometimes it’s called. An overhead angle, and then I do usually like three kind of process shots. So that might be a sauce in the food processor or some chopped … I just did one for Brussels sprouts, so the chopped Brussels sprouts in a bowl or the ingredients or something that visually represents the process. So there’s usually two or three of those, and then the last photo in the blog post ends up being kind of another version of that hero shot, but usually a little closer up and a little more like, OMG, saucy, sticky, whatever textural thing is happening. There might be a bite taken out, something like that.
Lindsay Ostrom: I view the first shot as kind of like my catchall. If Buzzfeed were to grab a photo to feature the recipe in a roundup, that would probably be the one they would grab. It’s probably gonna be the one that’s gonna do best on Instagram ’cause it’s probably an overhead angle and the perspective on it would make sense for that app.
Lindsay Ostrom: The last shot, however, that one I was talking about where there might be a bite taken out or it’s a little more drippy or salty or whatever textural element you can see with the recipe, that I think of as being a really good Pinterest shot. If you look at a lot of the best shots on Pinterest and how they perform, they’re these super close up, cropped photos of a bite of cake or something. And so that’s kind of how I think about my blog post.
Lindsay Ostrom: Now, to speak to the part about how do I know when to change something. So, in the example I was talking about where Krista made a recipe that I really only needed one last shot of, that was for something I was doing for Instagram stories where I had filmed the whole thing previously and done it without the sauce on top and then last minute said, “You know what? I think this would really sell it better to do a final shot of this with the sauce on top. So let’s make the whole thing again. We don’t need to get pictures of the process. I already have all of that, but then let’s just redo that last shot to kind of get the money shot.” That was specifically for Instagram, but I’ll often do that for the blog, too. If I feel like I went through my shot list and everything went really well, it’s just that I didn’t quite get the hero shot I was going for, then we might just go through the whole thing again and I’ll just work on that one photo.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So at this point, you have the photos that you need. You have the recipes from Monday, and maybe as kind of a transition question into Friday, where do you store those away in order to come back to them? Are you importing those on Wednesday or is that a Friday thing, as well? How do you kind of gather everything together on Friday and then move forward with actually creating the content?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah. So sometimes it happens on Wednesday. Just depends on timing. Sometimes I’m able to get to it on Wednesday and Krista finishes up doing the dishes and I have time to import the images and bring them into my computer. Sometimes it happens on Friday. But usually, that process, I would say it’s a couple hours for each post. I view it kind of in chunks. I view the first chunk as the image, getting the images ready, the second chunk as writing the post, and then the third chunk as loading it all into the post, even at that point, writing the actual recipe into the post, because remember, I said I record almost everything in just a notebook, so a lot of times it’s that final day, that final step when I go get my notebook and I write in the actual recipe with my notes that I’ve recorded.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, yeah, that’s a Friday thing for me. To be honest, it’s the kind of thing that can take me a really long time if broken up, but if I’m not distracted, right, I don’t have other tasks pulling me away and I don’t have things scheduled in between, I can get through it relatively quickly to where I’ve got my images edited, I jump over, I write the blog post, I upload everything, save it as my draft or schedule it as my post for the following week, and then boom, it’s done. So yeah. It’s a pretty straightforward process, like edit, write, load in the recipe, and draft, save draft.
Bjork Ostrom: What are you using for editing right now for your photos?
Lindsay Ostrom: I use Lightroom, but my initial processing is done through Photo Mechanic, which is a third party software that allows you to quickly and easily organize and view your raw images. I shoot in raw, so that is a good program for me to just kind of whip through those images and pick.
Lindsay Ostrom: One thing in speaking about time, ’cause we’ve kind of been focusing on the new efficiencies that are required of me in my current phase of life, I do not import … If in any given photo shoot, I have let’s say like 75 photos, I do not import 75 raw photos. That would take way too long. So I use Photo Mechanic, and you could do this in Lightroom, too. To me, it’s a little more clunky, which I use Photo Mechanic, but I just whip through all of those raw images and I basically pull out my shot list. So, I’m like, “Okay, here’s the one that will work for this shot. Here are these middle three. Here’s the one that will work for my last shot.”
Lindsay Ostrom: I probably have anywhere from 5 to 10 of those images, and then those are the ones that I import and work on editing and saving. So I’m not importing 75 photos and then having to process through and delete and all of that stuff. It’s a very quick process in terms of bringing those in. Now I don’t even remember what you initially asked.
Bjork Ostrom: I was just asking what you’re using to edit the photos, and you had said Lightroom. Photo Mechanic allows you to really quickly … You put the SD card into the computer and Photo Mechanic allows you to really quickly look through those, pick the ones that you actually want to import. From that, you bring in let’s say maybe 10 images into Lightroom, and then those are the ones that you pay more attention to and edit and work with.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yep. Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: Any other tools that are helpful in that process, in your workflow process, or otherwise is it essentially Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, and then straight into WordPress, and then you spend your time in WordPress. Nice.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yep. Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So you’re not drafting in a different place or anything like that.
Lindsay Ostrom: I don’t. I probably should. If you had anything to say about it, you would probably encourage me, and have encouraged me, to do it elsewhere just so that you don’t lose anything, which I have had happen a couple times. But I just go right into the post. I actually put my images in. So I edit the images. I put them in so I can kind of write around the images, if that makes sense. It’s like the images are the … What am I trying to say here … The frame of the house maybe. They build the structure of the post. I have image one and then two, three, four, and then image five, and then my words kind of go in and fill out the house a little bit more. But the images and the recipe kind of stand as the main structure of the post, so that’s why I get those elements in there first and then the writing is the last part that I do.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Lindsay Ostrom: You know what? One other thing I want to say actually about the writing process is I don’t use any specific program, but I have been following a similar approach as what I was describing with photography where I have a shot list. I kind of now am using a template almost for writing a post.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, I know a lot of people who have a queue full of amazing recipes and just have so much resistance to writing a post that they don’t actually publish them. I get it. It can be really hard to switch from recipe brain, photography brain, and then into writing brain, and sometimes it feels like, “What do I even write about? I’m sitting with this blank screen in front of me. I don’t even know what to say.”
Lindsay Ostrom: So for me, to eliminate that, and again, take away some of the decisions that I need to make, I found it really helpful to say, “Okay, here’s my template.” I start with an intro sentence. I make sure to include a paragraph that describes the food, which sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised how often you can go through and write a post and realize, “Wait a second. I don’t even think I described why this recipe’s great.” I go through and I talk about kind of the basic overview of how to make the recipe. I might include a section where I recommend related recipes or things that would go well with it.
Lindsay Ostrom: So, having some of that stuff, almost like systematizing your writing, is really helpful. It sounds a little bit soulless, and maybe for some people, it is. But for me, it actually lifts a burden a little bit. I feel like I can move through things more quickly and I feel freed up to be able to do the stuff that I need to do at the rate that I need to do it because I’m not constantly wondering, “Now, how do I start from scratch with this brand new post?” Especially when you’re publishing as much content as a lot of food creators are, which is on a weekly, for some people it’s daily, weekly, whatever, basis. So, that is a helpful thing for me, as well.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. For the sake of clarity with your template that you use, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve brainstormed and said, “This is the ideal way to craft a blog post.” It’s just for you, this is what feels like the best flow, and so it’s saying, “In general, I’m gonna use this moving forward.” Just so people know, I think sometimes people can hear a recommendation and then think that we have brainstormed and said, “This is the ultimate way to structure a post.” There’s probably some real strong benefits behind it, but also it’s what works for you. So it’s a reminder to people that are listening that the point isn’t, “Hey, start off with a sentence and then a paragraph describing the food”-
Lindsay Ostrom: Right, right. No, not at all.
Bjork Ostrom: … but to figure out something that you can follow that helps alleviate some of the burden of starting from zero, so to have some form that you approach things from.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes. And to be honest, I think that most, many food bloggers, it’s like you see what other people are doing, and what other people are doing is including 8 to 10 images and writing a little personal essay. Even I did that for a long time, and maybe I’ll do that again. I don’t know. I think it’s easy to feel like that’s what you need to do in order to be successful, and I would challenge you to just pause, get off the hamster wheel of content creation that we’re all just scrambling on all the time, and just think strategically, “Do I love writing? Do I love writing a personal essay with every recipe that I publish?” If I do, awesome, I’m gonna keep doing that. If it’s really a source of dread for you, you don’t have to do that. What are the pieces that you could do that will still give you that and even more, potentially, benefit without having to do that specific way of doing it?
Lindsay Ostrom: One example that I think of is there was a time like two years ago or probably longer than that, but I went through a stretch of just major overwhelm and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with anything but I wanted to keep publishing content, and so I just allowed myself to publish one photo per blog post. One of those recipes got picked up in a Buzzfeed roundup, and I was like, “Oh, they don’t care if I have 5 photos or 10 photos. They just want one good photo.” I could be doing one fifth of the work and still get the same, or maybe more benefit. You could have blog posts or recipe posts that only have a paragraph of text. Just because people often do it a certain way doesn’t mean that that’s the only way that it has to be done.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. So, coming to the end of the interview here. Also, coming to the end of this virtual week that we’ve been walking through. What would your advice be, Lindsay, for somebody who’s looking to overhaul or restructure how they go about their day, their week, their life, as it relates to the work that they’re doing and the creation process? Knowing that you’ve gone through that process and you’ve kind of landed on something that for this period of time … This isn’t what it’s gonna be forever, but for this period of time it really works well, what would your advice be to somebody else who feels like they’re not in that exact right spot yet and they’re trying to figure out? How do they go about revisiting that, restructuring that, and getting to a place that feels like a really good fit?
Lindsay Ostrom: I think one of the most important things you can do is be aware, be very aware of how you’re spending your time and be aware of what you should be spending your time doing. One of the things that we talked about on a recent Q and A, the Q and A call, video that we did for Food Blogger Pro members, so some of you, if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member and you watched this, then you have heard this before, or if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member, you can go and watch this because it’s on that page, but I talked about this idea of kind of a mush circle. Imagine a pile of mud kind of. That’s sometimes how our time can feel is all this stuff all mucked together. There’s no clarity in terms of what needs to happen. It’s just everything heaped all in together.
Lindsay Ostrom: And then the other way I would challenge you to think about that, the opposite, would be a pyramid. And so think about the base of your pyramid as the core most important thing that you need to be doing, and then the next level of the pyramid being kind of those secondary tasks, and the last level of the pyramid being the least important things, the things that whether or not you do, it won’t have a major impact on your success or your goals.
Lindsay Ostrom: I think moving from the mud pile into the pyramid is a really important thing so that you know how you should be spending your time. I think that’s the initial part, and then the second part is just actually being honest with yourself and accountable to yourself for how you are spending your time.
Lindsay Ostrom: I have a little bit of forced accountability right now, and probably a lot of us do, who have a full-time job and you’re doing this in the margins, or you have a family and you’re trying to do this on nights and weekends or whatever, but maybe even writing down, taking a week and writing down, “What am I doing? How long does it take me?” Because it might be the kind of thing where you’re saying, “All right, so today I’m gonna do a shoot, and I know that I have four hours and I can get through two recipes and I know that I can do that.” And then every time you’re feeling the tension, like, “Why can’t I get this done? This feels really messy,” but when you actually write down how long it took you to clean up afterwards, oh, it actually took you 45 minutes of your 4 hours to just do the cleanup process.
Lindsay Ostrom: I feel like once you see it on paper, you can then cross check that with your pyramid and say, “Are there places where there are things I either don’t need to do at all, like maybe I don’t need 10 photos per blog post, or places that I can bring some help in?” Even if it’s just very casual, very part-time help, like something like a shoot assistant. So those would be kind of my thoughts around efficiency and really making the time that you have available really maximized for what you’re trying to do.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah. I know a handful of people who do that just all the time. They’re just hardcore time trackers and keep track of how they spend their time throughout the day. I’ve done kind of a version of that, but for a period of time, so I did a week audit. I used a tool called Toggl that they have an app and they have something that you can use on your computer and just tracking what you’re spending your time doing, and it’s really interesting to do that on occasion to get a better read of how you spend your time. It’s kind of like the time … What do they call it within the iPhone where you can see your time usage throughout the week?
Lindsay Ostrom: Oh.
Bjork Ostrom: Screen time?
Lindsay Ostrom: Screen time, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s kind of a version of that, but for work.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. Coming to the end here, Lindsay. We always give people a chance to talk a bit about where they can find you online. A lot of people know Pinch of Yum, but for those that aren’t as familiar with Pinch of Yum, can you talk a little bit about where you spend your time online and where people can connect with you?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes. So Pinch of Yum is my blog, PinchOfYum.com. On Instagram, that’s probably our most active and personally my favorite social media platform, and we are just @pinchofyum on Instagram, and then I personally have a separate Instagram that’s just life, our life and personal stuff, and that is @lindsaymostrom, because I’m still waiting for the @lindsayostrom handle to become available.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, middle initial. It’s the old middle initial username.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Lindsay, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Great to chat with you in a recorded version. We get to chat in a non-recorded version often, but great to have you on, and thank you for sharing a little bit about what Pinch of Yum is like, the state of Pinch of Yum here in this current season. It was an honor to have you as a guest on the podcast.
Lindsay Ostrom: Well, thank you so much, Bjork. I appreciate it.
Bjork Ostrom: And now we will formally say goodbye.
Lindsay Ostrom: Okay.
Bjork Ostrom: I’ll talk to you later.
Lindsay Ostrom: See you later. Bye.
Bjork Ostrom: Bye.
Alexa Peduzzi: And that is that, my friend. We hope you enjoyed this episode, number 199 with Lindsay, and that you were able to take away some helpful tips and tricks that you can apply to your own blog. If something Lindsay said really stood out to you as something that you think could help you work more efficiently or more effectively, we would absolutely love to hear it. You just need to go to foodbloggerpro.com/199 and leave your thoughts and insights in the comments there. We’ll see you back here next week for our big celebratory 200th episode, but until then, make it a great week.
So good to have you back, Lindsay!!
I loved this episode and can definitely relate to the ‘checklists’ part. I’m far from being a focused person haha so my writing process was always a mess, until I created a little checklist of my own, which basically helps me structure my post. And you mentioned some people might think this is a “soulless” process, but I felt that having a structure to follow, allows me to be more genuine, and helpful to my audience, which to me is way more soulful than all the gobbledygook I used to write when I didn’t know what to say. I absolutely loved your input as to what you include in your checklist, and tweaked my existing list – THANK YOU!!!
What I never thought of creating was a photography checklist, so that was excellent advice too!!! I’ll definitely give it shot for sure!
I love you guys!
Loved this episode thank you so much!
I currently only have one photo per post and going to try and work on adding more. Do you think it is more important for me to focus more on getting more photos or adding consistent content to my blog?