Welcome to episode 263 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Tieghan Gerard about running her brand, growing her blog, and working with her family.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Mary Cressler and Sean Martin from Vindulge. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Creating with Confidence
Today we’re welcoming Tieghan Gerard back to the podcast after four whole years!
Tieghan has been pretty busy these past few years; she learned how to delegate work to her team, grow her personal brand, and set boundaries when they’re needed. She also realized that awesome, high-quality content needs to be at the core of everything she does; it helps her build a following and branch out to do other exciting projects that grow her business.
We loved catching up with Tieghan in this episode, and we know you’ll love getting a peek behind-the-scenes of how she runs Half Baked Harvest!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How she manages work and projects as a business owner and blogger
- How she started delegating her work
- How she started working with an influencer management company
- How to effectively communicate and advocate for your brand
- Why her blog acts as her brand’s hub
- How she grew her Instagram following to 1.7 million
- How to deal with negative comments
- Why it’s important for Tieghan to keep her head down and focus on her own work
- Why it’s important to set boundaries on social media
- How she monetizes Half Baked Harvest
- Her predictions for the future of Half Baked Harvest
- Half Baked Harvest
- 043: How Tieghan Gerard used Photography, Recipe Development, and Hustle to Build Half Baked Harvest
- Digital Brand Architects
- Half Baked Harvest Cookbook
- Half Baked Harvest Super Simple
- Tieghan’s South Korean Olympics posts – Part 1 and Part 2
- Follow Half Baked Harvest on Instagram and Pinterest and connect with Tieghan via her blog
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Alexa Peduzzi: Hello, hello and welcome to this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. I’m Alexa, and just wanted to take a quick second to welcome you to the show and to thank you so much for tuning in today. Today, we have an awesome episode. We did an interview with somebody we’ve actually interviewed before, but all the way back in 2016, and it is the very talented Tieghan Gerard from the food blog Half Baked Harvest. Now, if you spend all of about two seconds on Half Baked Harvest, you’ll know that she has quite a knack for food photography, recipe development, and just creating awesome content.
Alexa Peduzzi: She is outrageously talented, and she’s going to be talking about how food and awesome content is at the core of everything that she does, but then it also allows her to branch out and do other exciting projects to grow her brand and monetize her blog. She’ll talk about the importance of setting boundaries on social media, about growing and balancing a personal brand and how that’s so tough because it’s very personal and so much more including a fun story about her being in South Korea just a couple of years ago when her brother won an Olympic gold medal, which is a pretty cool story. So it’s a great interview. You’re really going to enjoy it. So without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Tieghan, welcome back to the podcast.
Tieghan Gerard: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be back.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s been fun to have these interviews that we’re doing where we check in with people who have been on the podcast before, get a little update. And what’s amazing is I can so vividly remember all of these interviews that I did. And in my mind it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but four or five years, there’s a lot that can happen in that period of time. And I’d be-
Tieghan Gerard: It’s crazy.
Bjork Ostrom: It is. It really is. I’d be curious if you look back April 2016 was the last episode that we published the interview that we did. If you look back and can do your best to remember like a typical day then versus a typical day now, how similar or different are things for you now versus what life was like in 2016?
Tieghan Gerard: Oh my gosh. I mean, they’re so different, but they’re also not. I’m still like I’ve always, my content is key for me, so I’m still creating and that’s always my focus, but I’m doing so much more. So my day to day is there’s just so many different things between managing a team and managing new projects and managing just a social media. There’s just so many more things than there was four years ago. But what’s kind of unique I feel like about me is I’ve definitely grown so much, I mean tremendously, but I’ve always kept the content kind of the core of my brand. So to that point, I’m still creating new recipes and photographing them and cooking a ton.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the interesting things that you said when you were processing through that, a word that came up a couple of times was managing. And I think that’s kind of a recurring theme that we’ve had in some of these conversations with people who, you know a lot of times we were checking in with somebody who maybe started a site in 2009, 10, 11, 12, early on. And when we started the podcast, that was enough time for people to have five, six, seven years to really work on something, get a lot of traction and to have some success. And what I hear you saying is, hey, you know what? Content is still super important. It’s still one of the main things that I focus on. It’s still the core driver of Half Baked Harvest, but there’s also this word of managing. Can you talk about how that has changed? And when you think about managing things, whether they be projects or people, what are those new things that you are managing and how do you go about fitting that in while still doing content?
Tieghan Gerard: Well, you know my balance is off. I’ll tell you that one a little bit. It’s hard. It’s so tricky. As someone who is really excited to be growing and doing everything that I’m doing, I’m definitely working a lot, but I love it so much and managing has been probably my biggest struggle. It’s such because I am so used to or I was, I’m not so much anymore, but I was so used to really just kind of doing it all myself and just kind of having like one focus where it was just the blog and now it’s so many different, there are so many different aspects to Half Baked Harvest, it’s not just the blog. And so we have a very small team, but managing that has been probably my biggest struggle just because I’ve never managed a team before and team members and how to delegate.
Tieghan Gerard: And all of those things is a whole new thing for me. So I’m really, and I’m still learning that. I’m still learning how to really delegate and really allow people to help and to come on, which has been really hard for me because I’m slightly a control freak. And then we have so many different projects between cookbooks and product and updates to the site, redesigns, like just I could … so many different things that we never four years ago. So managing it at all is definitely like … and managing your time and managing your day to day and trying to figure out okay, where’s my time best spent? What can I delegate? And yeah, so managing is it’s hard, but I’m slowly learning. And the bottom line is I’m just still really learning.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. So along that journey, eventually what happens is we realize we can’t do it all, but there are some things that you want to continue to do. So I’d love to dive into that a little bit. What were some of the first things that you had, that you brought people in to help out with along that journey? And I know that you have an extremely talented family that have helped out with some things. So was that the easiest place to start with? What did that look like to start to delegate some of those things to allow you to continue to focus on content?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, so for me, but yeah, I have a very … my family is huge and they’re all kind of doing something different. So that was for me such an easy way to be able to bring on team members essentially. So I guess right off the bat, I mean, even like just in this last year really has been our, which is crazy, which has been our first year really having full time employee, not employees, but team members. I like to think of them more as just team members. And so really in the last year, we’ve really tried to integrate that more, but previous years it’s really all been and it still is very family focused. My mom is very much still involved. She does all of the backend of the blog and really has since day one. So I’ve always had that.
Tieghan Gerard: And she does the upkeep of the blog. She manages the ads. All of that like nitty gritty backend stuff, that’s really her. And she also copy edits all of the content. So it’s a lot. She’s definitely a big part. And then yeah, I brought my younger brother on as well too. He still continues to do all of our video content. He films and edits those videos for social media. And the ones that you see in feed, Instagram stories I’m of course doing. But so he is still very much a part of Half Baked Harvest. And then we actually brought on two of my cousins to help with social media and they have been within the last year or so, like that’s been huge to kind of really help me with that and take some of that workload off.
Tieghan Gerard: And then we also have a team member, we’re still to figure it. She’s doing a little bit of everything at this point. And so we don’t have a full on title for her, but she’s essentially kind of a assistant. She just kind of runs all aspects, jumps in wherever she can. So she’s very much helping with my personal email load, helping me stay up to date with any kind of sponsor content, any projects that we’re working on, going back and forth with our management team and kind of like taking the back and forth of everything out of it. So that really I just am used for the content and like, okay, Tieghan, you need to make this decision and you know that. So that’s been really, really helpful and that’s probably been for me because she is, her name is Margaret and she’s very … she is not a family member.
Tieghan Gerard: So that was like the biggest thing for me. And we’ve really tried to hire in the past and it’s been, we’ve gone through a slew of people. It’s been hard. So this one’s sticking, which is great. She’s been on for a while now. And yeah, she just kind of really helps me stay up to date with everything, stay organized, manage calendars, manage our bigger projects and all of that. And then my dad is also a huge part of the brand. He does all the grocery shopping, basically all of the cleaning. It’s a lot.
Tieghan Gerard: So I’m very lucky to be very close and literally next door neighbors with my parents. So that is a very … I feel very lucky in that way. And then we also have my brother’s girlfriend. She helps to manage all of the commentary on the blog. So the blog comments. Yeah. So we actually have quite … It’s like listing it all out, there’s quite a few of us, but it’s different because they’re family members. So I feel like, yes they’re so integrated into the brand in Half Baked Harvest, but it’s just, yeah, I don’t think of them as … I don’t know. They’re family.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s like the ultimate meeting the family for a girlfriend is like working within the family business. It’s one thing to go to Thanksgiving, but it’s another thing to be hired by your boyfriend’s sister for the business.
Tieghan Gerard: Right. Well, it’s crazy because she’s actually been on for one of the longest times, few years now really because before that he was helping me with all that. He’s like, “I’m over this Tieghan. I don’t want to do this.” So it’s really great.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like classic brother thing to do to be like, “This is my job, but also sister, I’m done.”
Tieghan Gerard: Well, that’s his line. That ain’t my job.
Bjork Ostrom: And you’re like, “Well actually it is technically. But yeah.”
Tieghan Gerard: But no, so she’s been really great too. And what’s really nice is that for me, I really like to keep Half Baked Harvest super personal. So all of these people are very close to me and know me and that’s been I think really, really helpful in continuing to build out the brand and keep it personal. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Personal. Yeah, yeah. It really is one of the hard things that for somebody who has built a personal brand, and I think a lot of people who are creators, bloggers have a following on social media can relate to this. You build a personal brand, but at some point you need to make it sustainable. And you do that by bringing people in. And in some ways, you want that to preserve that as much as possible, the personal side of it, but also you can’t do everything. And so you have to find these things that you are willing to switch from being a personal brand to being a brand that is personal. What were some of those really early pieces that you were willing to have somebody else help with? I heard you say email as one of those, comments.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk through making the decision? Because I think it’s if people continue to work hard to build what they’re working on, they will have success. And so for listeners, eventually they will have to make this decision. Looking back, what was the easiest and most helpful thing to give up, so to speak or to delegate or to pass on? And would you do that differently if you were to go back and do it again?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. Well right off the bat, I want to say that it’s still a really big struggle for me. It’s hard, it’s really, really hard. And I think that anybody in this space can probably relate because it does feel so personal, especially with social media and platforms like Instagram and people really want to see you interact with you or at least that’s what I’ve experienced. So it’s been really hard to me. Just yesterday I was on the phone saying how hard it is. I’m like, “I know, I know I need to delegate more. I need to delegate more.” But right off the bat, I delegated the blog commentary. I mean, and I say that hesitantly because I delegated it, but to this day, I am still interacting in the comments and getting back to people in questions and things like that.
Tieghan Gerard: So it’s really kind of having someone read through what needs my eyes and I mean, that’s a big help because we see a lot of traction and we see a lot of commentary. And so it took so much off of my plate. And even just like things like Pinterest, that was easy for me to delegate. That was something that Kaitlin who does our blog comments was actually doing, but we actually brought on a … just this year and to be very upfront with you, I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s a benefit or not, but we brought on someone to just kind of take over Pinterest. I mean, and when I say takeover, that just kind of means that they are scheduling out our pins and pinning other pins.
Tieghan Gerard: But at the same time, I still use Pinterest as a personal, like I still use it. So I’m pinning. So I think it’s basically what I’m getting at is it’s really hard, but the things that I delegated right off the bat were things like that. Pinterest, scheduling out Facebook content, blog commentary, and then within the last year, I’ve had a lot more help with social media through Instagram and making sure that things are scheduled properly and people are being responded to and things like that. So social media has been something I’m still so interactive on it, but I’ve also been able to delegate some of that. And then I mean, all of the back end of the blog, I’ve really delegated that since the day one. So for me, that was just like that’s something that I never really had an attachment to. So that was easy.
Tieghan Gerard: And then in the last couple or really the last year, email has been big. I’ve been able to … Margaret who is kind of managing, she’s not managing my inbox, so she’s helping to weed out what my eyes really need to be seeing. And then scheduling meetings and just the back and there’s so much back and forth day to day when you start bringing new projects on and all of that. And then, I mean, I didn’t even think about this, but we do have management. We’re with DBA, Digital Brand Architects. And so that was something that gosh, I can’t even remember how long I’ve been with them. At least, I probably started four years ago, maybe around the time I first talked to you with them. And so that’s been … they really manage all of our sponsored content. So I don’t really have to deal with the contracts and any of that essentially. So that’s obviously a big way that I was able to take out delegate and not have to be thinking about that. So those are some of the things.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about DBA and what that is, how they work, how you went about connecting with them?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. How I went about connecting with them was actually through my brother’s now wife, his sister was with them. So she kind of was like … I was talking to her and she’s like, “You can not keep doing this.” Basically like you need to delegate, you need to delegate, which everybody is always kind of on me about. But so I got on the phone with the founder Reyna and spoke to the brand and maybe where I wanted to be seeing it going and how … and then she just kind of gave me all of the information and we signed with them. And to be honest it was the first year, year and a half, maybe even two years, it was very difficult for me because up until that point, we were also seeing the contracts working directly with the brands, doing the negotiating.
Tieghan Gerard: And it’s not that I enjoyed that, but I’m such a control freak that I was like, “Well, is this company really, are they really vetting for us? Are they really … what are they really doing?” And also outlaying the benefit because obviously they get a percentage of all of the things that we do in the brand or in the sponsor content side. So it was really weighing the benefits and making sure that it was a good fit. And for the first year or year and a half, it was actually, it was so rocky and I actually left for a few months in the middle there and then went back because I couldn’t handle it all. But since I went back, I’ve really worked at building my relationship with my manager and it’s been a complete like game changer. I think I wasn’t able to communicate properly. And I’m just like, I’ve grown over those years. And communication is everything and it’s a really great relationship now. And my manager is a big part of Half Baked Harvest and growing it and everything that we’re doing right now.
Bjork Ostrom: What are some of the things that you learned about communication that made that relationship better?
Tieghan Gerard: You just really need to speak your mind and not hold anything. This person, especially when they’re working so closely with you, you can’t hold anything back. You really do have to express your feelings of what you want as the content creator and as the brand. And you kind of really have to hold your ground. And I’ve always been always like it’s never been hard for me to say, “I can’t work at that brand because I don’t use that brand.” I’ve really kept that the core of Half Baked Harvest is that we’re not like essentially, I don’t want us sell out, but we only work with the brands that we really use and wholeheartedly love.
Tieghan Gerard: So I think that’s been reflected in why sponsored content hasn’t necessarily been seen as in a bad light for us which I think is key. But yeah, I mean, communication, just I feel like I don’t really remember what I was doing wrong then, but it’s just kind of like you just need to be open and be able to … With me I mean, we’re in constant contact now. I mean, we text, we email, we hop on the phone. It’s just, it’s like a very constant communication flow and really allowing you … I feel there needs to be a sense of trust, which I don’t think I had before because I am a very hesitant person. And that’s why working with family is obviously so great for me because there’s nobody I trust more. But yeah, in the last year, it was really allowing myself to be able to trust somebody outside of the family and opening up I think.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I feel like that’s such a huge part of it is that trust element. Like you said, especially if you have a healthy relationship with your family which we’ve been able to connect through the years, visited you a few years ago when we were coming through Colorado, like obviously you have a really incredible family that’s very close and that trust element is so important. So whether that be family or team, to have open communication and to have that level of trust goes such a long way. So I think to work towards that is such a great, great goal in all relationships, but especially business relationships as well.
Tieghan Gerard: Absolutely. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you talked about that’s changed and evolved is like you used to kind of talk about blogging and now it’s like it’s kind of managing a media brand. So there’s the blog, there’s Instagram, there’s video. If you were to rank order kind of the platforms or the places that you focus on that are most important for Half Baked Harvest as a brand, what would you say those would be? What would the top five or top three, whatever you can say is like yes for sure, these are the most important places for us as a business.
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. I still to this day look at the blog as the most important, because that is the hub of everything. And I think that’s been a key in growing our Half Baked Harvest as a brand because essentially I don’t or I do not own those social media platforms. Those are not mine and you just never know what’s going to happen. So I’ve always really made a focus to make sure that the blog is as well upkept, is really the core of where everybody, kind of like the hub where everybody can really go back to because you just never know what’s happening with social media. It’s constantly changing and we always have that. It will always be there.
Tieghan Gerard: So I feel like with Instagram, Instagram is huge for us. Don’t get me wrong and that’s probably my number two. But with Instagram, I think a lot of content creators, influencers, whatever you want to call us, it’s always such like a what are we? I think with a lot of those people, some of them really kind of let their sites maybe fall to the wayside. And in doing that, you also lose your email list and you lose … And the email list is huge. I can’t stress that one enough. Those are dedicated readers and people that want to see your content and that email is going directly to their inbox. And like with social media, you don’t have a control over what the algorithm is doing, what is going on. So really putting a focus on the blog and in turn that email list as well is still really our core focus.
Tieghan Gerard: And then from there, I kind of just trickle everything out into the social media space, right? So with Instagram being the biggest focus, I spend way too much time on Instagram. And that is definitely my number two focus for sure and then that email news list. And I still do put a lot of, I’m probably forgetting something, but I do still put a lot of effort into Pinterest and making sure like yes, I said that we brought on a team for that. But Pinterest, I’m still very much in those conversations knowing what’s happening because it is a core content driver right back to Half Baked Harvest. And we see a lot of traffic through Pinterest to this day and so we can’t ignore it. We use Pinterest a lot. And I would say that between the blog and email and Instagram and Pinterest … well, I mean, what was the original question?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Those would be kind of the top three. Yeah. Your top, what you consider to be the most valuable. So if I was like, “Hey, you can only use three things to continue building your business.” And it sounds like what I hear you saying is blog super important, Instagram, super important, email and then Pinterest maybe kind of tied for third as important.
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. We’re slowly getting into TikTok, which I’m just like, “We just don’t need another platform everybody. Can we just chill.”
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. I know. And I feel like especially for people who have done so much work to build a strong presence in a place, the idea of like starting over is intimidating in some sense.
Tieghan Gerard: It’s tricky. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: So Instagram you mentioned is your second. You’ve obviously done something right. And a lot of that has to do with content, consistent content creation, but you have like a fast growing following on Instagram and 1.7 million followers, which is really incredible and digital high-five to you for doing that.
Tieghan Gerard: Thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: What do you think is, as you’ve crafted your ability to use the platform to build a following, what do you consider to be the most valuable assets for a creator on Instagram to build a strong following? And what are the things that you’ve done that you would attribute as the most important things to that growth?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. Well, consistency I think is huge. For me, it always goes back to content and quality content and making sure that what you are putting out is really something that you stand behind and feel strongly about and are excited to be sharing, because I think that so much of it really does rub off. If you’re just putting out content to put out content, it’s not going to do anything for you, and then really sticking to my core values. So like authenticity. And for me, I think the biggest thing has been communication with the Half Baked Harvest community. I mean, they really … I spend so much time in my direct messages. I spend so much time in the comments. I really allow our audience to be heard and interact with them, which I think is what people want and need and crave.
Tieghan Gerard: And I think that’s how you grow a personal brand and how you grow a dedicated following. So I really think that has been between consistency, content creation, really holding to my standards of not working with brands that I don’t stand behind. Also not doing an over, like a huge amount of sponsored content. It’s not something that really excites me is doing a ton of branded work and there’s really limited amount of brands that I do use anyways. I’m pretty minimalist in the kitchen. So I’ve been very, very picky about that and I think that that has really built a trust with our audience. And I think that that is just like, we were just speaking to trust is really everything in life. I mean, it just, it always goes back to trust and feeling like you can … What you are seeing is really what that person wants to be putting out into the world and believes in it and can stand behind.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the questions that I have specifically with Instagram, so you’re spending a lot of time in DMS, in comments. You’re producing a lot of content so you’re interacting with a lot of people. The sunny side to that is build building trust. It’s building a following, it’s engaging with your followers. It’s getting an idea of what they want and what they like or don’t like, but there’s also a shadow side, exposure to mean people and mean comments. What has that been like for you to protect your mental wellbeing while also acknowledging the importance of Instagram as a platform or social media in general?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. I mean, of course nobody likes the hater comments and all those things. I’ve definitely learned to be able to like, “Okay, this person’s just having a bad day or whatever or who knows.” And so I’ve definitely learned to be able to really brush it off. But then there’s those ones that get to you and you’re just like, “Why? Why do you need to say that?” But I don’t think, and I think because I’ve really been so interactive on the platform and honest and willing to share that we don’t see a ton of it. I mean, we obviously get it, but we definitely, definitely get it. I don’t want to make it seem like we don’t, but I don’t think that we get nearly as much as some people in the space too.
Tieghan Gerard: And I think it’s because going back to even just like the branded side of things, I don’t work with the brands that I don’t trust or I don’t use, and I’m very, very honest and open with our community and I think that’s really been key. And so I think that really helps. I really think that trust that those people feel like they have has been able to keep them kind. That said, the last few months have been a little bit different just because I think that the entire, not I think, I know the entire world is really seeing a lot of not nice things happening, so yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s interesting. I feel like there’s the reality as a creator that as the temperature, like the global national whatever it might be temperature changes, you see that in a way that somebody who’s not publishing content into the world and opening it up to comments or feedback doesn’t see. And I think more than anything important to acknowledge like in varying degrees for whatever type of content you produce, that does happen. And if you podcast listener are experiencing that, know that you’re not alone in having to sort through kind of the mental gymnastics that go into feedback, comments whether it be on a recipe or a brand that you work with that somebody doesn’t like or just like unrest in the world.
Tieghan Gerard: Right. The bottom line is you need to feel like as long as you feel competent about what you’ve put out and what you’re sharing. I mean, you don’t know what happened in that person’s day. You don’t know where their head space is at and it’s not a reflection on you or what you’ve done. It’s just, and that’s something my mom has taught me. You have to be able to brush it off and not … and I mean, it gets to me, trust me. It’s not an easy thing to do at all, but you definitely have to be able to brush it off and find ways to cope whether like for me, it’s like I need to sleep on it and then go hiking. And then okay, I forget about it, move on, focus on creating and doing what you love.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. And I think your point too, I think one of the difficult things about social media is not having a connection with the people that you’re having a conversation with. I think what I heard you saying was you’re very intentional to have conversations with people ongoing. And so there is that connection which it’s really hard. It doesn’t scale. And that’s doing the work and showing up every day in a way that I think for a lot of people they’re not willing to do.
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really important.
Bjork Ostrom: So let’s say you were to go back, have a conversation with yourself from four years ago, two part question. What are the things that you would say to yourself, hey, you know what, maybe don’t do this. This isn’t worth it or that won’t pan out. And then the opposite side of that, what would be the things that you’d say like, hey, you for sure need to do this or maybe do this a little bit earlier. So how about that first question? Maybe the things that you’d tell yourself, just skip that, don’t focus on that or maybe don’t worry about it.
Tieghan Gerard: Oh man. I mean, there are so many little things I would say for sure, but the constant … and thing is I still do it though. Second guessing is really like my biggest hangup. I do a lot of second guessing. I’m definitely my own worst critic. To this day, I would still tell myself, “Tieghan, you just need to have some confidence and not do that.” But-
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of that? Is that with like a photograph or like if a recipe is tested enough or what does that look like for you to process through that?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, it absolutely comes down to photos, recipes. I mean, all of it, anything that like … I think it’s when you have a personal brand, everything is so personal to you. Right. So it’s really hard. And I always, I just have never put out, I don’t think that it’s worth putting out content that you are not really excited about and really stand behind, so it can be hard. And especially because you would think it would get easier, but even after doing it for so many years, it’s kind of like … And then there’s an added pressure of keeping everyone happy too. So it’s just really, it’s being in your own mind and having a healthy mindset and it can be really, really tricky. It really can. I think that and I think it can just … You just said something, you have to learn how to get through and have ways to almost get out of your head and just not think about it.
Tieghan Gerard: A lot of times I’ll be like, “If I don’t …” I mean, I still reshoot content all the time and I’m like, “Until I get it just right.” So it’s still, it’s a big struggle for me. I would to this day tell myself, “You need to just kind of know, trust it and put it out there.” But that is something too I also have to say is like just, you kind of also bite your tongue, put it out there. I wish I would have done a lot more of that. Like just stop worrying, because look, you put it out there and it did so well or whatever.
Tieghan Gerard: So I think that there’s a lot. You need to obviously make sure what you’re doing is you do love it and everything, but I think that to a point you also need to step back and say, “Okay, I have done all I can do here. I feel confident in this. I’m going to put it out whether it does well or doesn’t, it doesn’t matter.” So I think that worrying about that aspect of things is something I definitely would have told myself. That’s how I would tell myself to just like, okay, you need to let it go. Let a little bit more go.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s hard at the same time because I feel like there’s probably, I don’t want to feed into that and make it more extreme for you moving forward. But I also want to acknowledge like your insistence on a level of quality plays into the success that you’ve had, which is like, that is the yin and the yang of that.
Tieghan Gerard: That’s the struggle. Yeah. It’s like I said, I still struggle with it today. And I think that’s why it’s hard with personal brands and growing them and just like trying to find the balance of it all. I think that there’s just, there’s no, like for me and I still haven’t found the answer and I don’t know that there is a perfect answer.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, one of the … somebody I worked for used to have this percentage goal and for him it was 90%. And it was whether it was like drafting a letter, in this case it would be photography. But I found that to be helpful for the work that I do is to have a percentage. And for some people it might be higher. Like you might be like 98%. Other people considering the restrictions they have in their life, it might be like 80%. And obviously, it’s not a concrete thing that you can actually figure out like, hey, it’s this percentage, but it’s been helpful for me to think about like, is this at 90% or 95% or whatever the percentage is because I think that’s such a relatable thing for you as a creator.
Bjork Ostrom: It reflects who you are, what you’re about, that people are going to see it, maybe make a recipe, you want it to be really successful. So I think that’s something that a lot of people can understand and resonate with. Anything else that when you look back, you’d say like, “Hey, maybe this project or this effort or this focus that I had, I maybe wouldn’t have spent as much time on it or focused on it as much,” or is it more mindset type stuff?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. I think it’s more mindset stuff just because, yes, there are, I mean, there are definitely brands that I wish that I wouldn’t have necessarily worked with just because it was not a great relationship or for whatever reason. And I think early on I’m sure I probably said yes to brands that I maybe shouldn’t have said yes to because I don’t use them, but I learned quickly that you really can’t do that. And I think that it’s really just, and it’s just something I really still need to tell myself is not to just, you got to let a lot go and you got to … yeah, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that’s great. And I think that’s, as we have some of these check-ins, reflect. And even for me personally, I think one of the things I hear you saying that I think is really important to point out is it’s not like in any of these interviews we’re doing that people have arrived. We are all in the thick of it, kind of figuring it out as we go and every day-
Tieghan Gerard: Oh, you’re always figuring it out.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes for sure. But how about on the opposite side? What are the things that you look back on and you’re like, “This was really worth it and really important.” And if you were to go back, you’d say like, “Hey, make sure that you do this.” If you’re speaking to the person, Tieghan of four years ago, make sure you do this because this will pay off or this is worth it.
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. There are so many things. I mean, for one I should … Well, if you’re asking what I should have done earlier, I definitely should have started delegating earlier because there’s just, there’s so many little things that you really have to not need to be involved in, especially when you are … We really have, we’re doing a lot. And so there’s just so many little things that you just don’t really need to be involved in too much. That said, it’s like you still also need to know what’s going on. So I think delegation definitely, I would have said do this sooner and you could be a little bit further along. We waited so long to bring on anyone outside of the family. So that that’s a big one for me. And then I think that focusing, like I just always kept my head down not focused on what anybody else in this space is really doing.
Tieghan Gerard: And I think that’s been really kind of great for me in creating a unique brand and a unique, a food blog or whatever you want to call it because I really have not … I’ve kept my eyes pretty like on my own work and what are you doing and not worried too much about what everyone else in this space was doing. So I really learned how to put my blinders up. And even like going back to social media, I am not on. I’m not sitting there at scrolling social media and I think that that can really affect a lot of people too and their mental state. And I kind of realized like I cannot. One, I don’t have the time so I can not sit there and scroll. And then when you scroll, you essentially just start, like for me, comparison has been something that I still struggle with.
Tieghan Gerard: And comparing your content to other people’s content and, oh, that’s so much better or so much prettier or whatever. So I think that like not … I think that’s kind of giving myself those and I’m like even just thinking back to it now, I can’t believe I did that. But giving myself those kinds of like rules of like, okay, if you’re going to be on social media, be on social media but be in social media because you’re using it as a tool, not as something that you want to sit there and scroll through all day.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that. It’s one of the reasons for me, like the biggest factor in me not using social media is that. It’s like it’s just so easy for me to hop on and scroll through and to see that and to compare.
Tieghan Gerard: You really have to like, you really have to set boundaries. It’s just so key. And otherwise you’re going to drive yourself insane. I don’t think anybody has the ability to not kind of like, not compare. I mean, maybe if you’re really … I’m sure some people do. Yeah, especially when you’re someone creating content in a creative space, I think it’s hard to not compare. So I think that if you just set those boundaries and I just eliminate it from my life, it just makes my life better. So yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think there’s something to be said about the self awareness and to say, throughout the day, what are the things that I’m doing that make me feel better about myself or feel like I’m in a healthy place versus not? It’s actually one of the things I’ve started to do. I use an app called Notion and I have a little note that’s called everyday enjoyable. And not that you’re going to get to the point where everything you do is enjoyable, but I have noticed that it ebbs and flows in terms of the type of work that I do and how much do I enjoy that work? And sometimes there’s going to be work that we all do that we really don’t enjoy. And it’s just part of the process. It’s like maybe you don’t enjoy working out, but you have a healthy body because of it, similar things with work.
Bjork Ostrom: But I do think there are things that we can do to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves in a good head space and to intentionally reflect on that which it sounds like you’ve done as it relates to social. And one of those things being like, hey, I’m going to spend the majority of my time interacting with people who are looking to connect, whether through DMs, comments, things like that, versus like content consumption, which would be scrolling through the feed or watching stories or whatever it might be, which I think is really wise. So if you were to, from a business perspective, kind of that same rank order. What are the areas of Half Baked Harvest that are most significant for you as a business? If you were to say one, two, three, ad, sponsor content, you’ve done cookbooks. Are there areas where you consider to be the most important that you’d focus on the most from a business revenue perspective?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, I mean, our ad content which I hate to say is still one of our biggest revenue platforms. So I’m so picky about the ads that … and I think that’s also been really important to building. I’m really picky about ad placement, where they go, not making sure that we don’t have too many, the popup ads aren’t too much. I hate the popup ads. So it’s pretty minimal and it’s pretty minimal at this point, but because I really put a focus on content. And I think even just going back to Pinterest and going back to Facebook too, I forgot about Facebook, but we still use Facebook as well.
Tieghan Gerard: And so really kind of, we see a lot. Our traffic is great, so we see a lot of traffic and in turn our ads, even though that we don’t have a huge amount and people don’t ever really complain about them, our ads do insanely well. So that’s still one of our top revenue sources. Sponsored content is not our top revenue source because I don’t do a lot of it. I would say it’s probably like number three. We’re getting into product and things like that. So that’s kind of becoming a revenue source. But ads is our-
Bjork Ostrom: When you say product, is that you creating a Half Baked Harvest branded product?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. We’re working on some. It’s not launched yet, but 2021 we’ll have some product. And then we’ve got some fun things going on like this year that are kind of really just dipping our toes into it. So outside of the cookbook space. And yeah, I’ve done two cookbooks now and I’m going to be completely honest, those you just like break even on and they’ve done well. The cookbooks really are just kind of … I see the cookbooks as something that people they do really enjoy, but they’re not big revenue sources at all. Of course we’ve made money off of them, but that’s not really why I do them. So yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting even the conversations that I’ve had not on the podcast, but with friends and connections who have written books maybe in like the finance space or personal improvement, it’s kind of a similar idea where, hey, I’m not doing this as like a single source of revenue, but I’m doing this in order to prove like I’m an expert in this area or that I can do speaking gigs. And Lindsay’s even talked about for Pinch of Yum for a cookbook, this idea of legacy in a different way than digital content and forever you will have this book that somebody can hold and flip through and look at and almost as like a gift to readers. And we’ve never gone through the process of doing that, but it feels like a labor of love in a different way than other sort of work that you would do, which makes sense.
Tieghan Gerard: It’s so much work. All I have to say is it is so much work and you do it because it’s for the audience and you do it because … For me, I do it because the community wants it. And like you just said, cookbooks are so unique in that when you’re cooking, a lot of people don’t enjoy looking at their phone or having their computer out, and they really just want to have a physical recipe in front of them. And I’m exactly that way. I don’t like staring at my phone or having my computer out and I don’t really follow recipes unfortunately anymore. So it’s hard for me to like … but cookbooks are like a … they’re just something in your kitchen that feels homey and people love, and they love to have and it’ll be there forever. So I think that’s very unique and I also do them. I have done them kind of to the point where you were saying, like it’s almost for me, it’s really more of a way to grow versus an avenue or a money resource. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. So one of the questions I’d be curious to hear you talk about is we we’ve talked a lot about four years ago, what were things like? How have things changed? What are the things you’d do different? The advice you’d give yourself. I’m curious to know when you look four years out, what do you hope? If we do have a conversation in 2024, which is so weird to think about, but 2020 would have been weird to think about in 2016, what do you hope would be true for you?
Tieghan Gerard: You wouldn’t have predicted 2020, I don’t think.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah, but what about 2024? And not predicting on a global level, but just for you personally, what would that look like? And what would you hope life would look like?
Tieghan Gerard: Oh, I mean, it’s been the last year has really been a major year of growth for us. And I don’t see Half Baked Harvest as just a food blog anymore, I see it as so much more. So I’m really kind of looking to grow. Food is always going to be that core for me. But I’m really looking to continue to grow the community and the audience and do more, whether that’s more cookbooks, which I’m so on the fence about. But like I said, we’re getting into product, we’re getting … We’re in the middle of a redesign, like really kind of viewing Half Baked Harvest as a brand and not as a food blog. So whether it’s more, I hate to say lifestyle because I don’t ever … I’m not switching any focus really.
Tieghan Gerard: Food will always be that core. I do so much of it. It’s why people come to me and I will never lose that because I think that that’s also been something that has really helped us stay successful is that we haven’t been like, okay, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do that. It’s really being consistent content and what people really want to see from me. But at the same time, I also see that our audience is very interested in the lifestyle of everything that I’m doing. So I’m in Colorado, I’m in a very unique place. People are very interested in that. So I think what’s cool about food is it’s really, it’s the heart of the home. So because of that, I think that I have a space to also incorporate more lifestyle content, whether that is there are things that I love.
Tieghan Gerard: I love interior design. I love doing Tablescapes. I’m just such a visual creative kind of person that putting all that together and people want more of it. So I slowly have integrated that into the blog and just my social platforms and just kind of sharing more tidbits of my personal life. And again like it … but it’s hard. It’s not easy and it’s you’re opening yourself up to criticism. You’re opening yourself up to so much. But in four years, I really kind of hope that Half Baked Harvest is kind of more … I don’t want it to be seen as just like a food blog, but really more as that kind of like lifestyle, like all encompassing brand. So it’s exciting.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally. That’s awesome. My last question. Has Half Baked Harvest ever considered sponsoring your brother Red in a snowboarding event? Putting a Half Baked Harvest sticker on his snowboard, would he be open to that? And-
Tieghan Gerard: Oh my God. He would totally do it. Absolutely. Because my family-
Bjork Ostrom: Would you be open to it? That’s the question.
Tieghan Gerard: I’ve never thought about it. I don’t know. I mean, it’s funny because Red it’s like he did the whole Olympic thing. Right. And-
Bjork Ostrom: Can you tell that story real quick for people who aren’t familiar?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. Did I talk to you? How long ago was that? That was before the Olympics, yeah?
Bjork Ostrom: Yup, yup. Yup.
Tieghan Gerard: Oh my God. Well, yeah, so my little brother who is not little anymore, he just turned 20 and I’m just like, “No, what is going on?” He’s 20, but at the time, so my little brother Red is a professional snowboarder and he went to Korea. He did the Olympics, he won the Olympics. And it was a whole, it was a crazy, crazy experience. And he’s still snowboarding. He’s still doing awesome. And he had an incredible season this past season. Unfortunately, a lot of their stuff has already been canceled for this coming year.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What a bummer.
Tieghan Gerard: So it’s just like you said, figuring out this new world is really tricky. So I mean, I don’t care what Red … I mean, the really cool thing about my family is we really are so close and we would all do no matter how much we’re like, “Okay, you’re annoying. Go away.” Like we would all do anything for-
Bjork Ostrom: Like in the most loving way possible.
Tieghan Gerard: Absolutely. Yeah. We would all do anything for each other or just to happily support and he would totally do it. Because the funny thing is all of his … this is the snowboard community is very, very loosey goosey. And they love Half Baked Harvest because anytime that they can get some food and whatever, so it’s good. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. Well, people will have to look that up. Maybe we’ll link to it in the show notes as well because it’s really fun to see you guys and your family there and cheering them on. And it was like, wait a minute, it connects this thing that seems like another stratosphere, which is the Olympics and Olympics athletes.
Tieghan Gerard: Oh, I haven’t thought back to that in so long. Yeah, we have some blog posts about it and lots of pictures and it was a crazy experience.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We’ll link to it. So Tieghan, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Obviously Half Baked Harvest is where people can find you, but do you just want to do a quick little recap maybe the best places for people to look for you and connect with you if they want to reach out?
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah, absolutely. You can definitely reach out through Half Baked Harvest, the contact page, whatever, if you have any questions. Like I noted to, I try and get back to everyone. Instagram, DM me, I’m there too and on all social platforms, but really my blog and Instagram are really the best places to connect. So and they’re all Half Baked Harvest.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Hey Tieghan, so great to connect again. Thanks for coming on.
Tieghan Gerard: Yeah. Thank you.
Alexa Peduzzi: And that’s a wrap on this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Thanks again for tuning in today and we hope you enjoy this interview with Tieghan. If you haven’t listened to our first interview with her, it’s linked in the show notes for this episode. So you can get there by going to foodbloggerpro.com/263 and you can leave a comment or find links to all of the resources that were mentioned in this episode. One exciting announcement that I wanted to end this episode on is that we are hiring. So Tieghan talked about the importance of delegating work, and we are in the process of finding people to delegate work to as well here on the Food Blogger Pro team. We are so excited to add to our team. Our team is just so fun and incredible to work with.
Alexa Peduzzi: So we’re looking to hire a forum manager to help us moderate the community forum on Food Blogger Pro and then a customer success agent to help us support our customers and to help our members with their accounts. So if either of those sound like a great fit for you, we would love to have you apply. The deadline is actually this Friday, the 31st of July. But you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/apply to learn more about both positions and then apply to either or to both if you think they would be a good fit. So that’s all from us today and we’ll see you next time, next Tuesday, and until then, make it a great week.