252: Expert Check-In – What You Should Know About Traffic, Sponsored Content, and Pinterest in 2020

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An image of a desk with a computer and a phone and the title of the 252nd episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Expert Check-In.'

Welcome to episode 252 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Andrew Wilder, Danielle Liss, and Kate Ahl about traffic, sponsored content, and Pinterest strategies.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Laurie Buckle from CookIt Media about knowing and serving your audience. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

What You Should Know About Traffic, Sponsored Content, and Pinterest in 2020 

Today, Bjork is interviewing three of our Food Blogger Pro Experts. If you’re not a Food Blogger Pro member, or maybe you are a member and you’re not really sure what our experts do, they volunteer their time on the forum and during Live Q&As to help our members out with their trickiest questions. Our experts specialize in certain topics like SEO, affiliate marketing, social media, email marketing, and more, and that’s what they teach our members about on Food Blogger Pro.

So in today’s episode, you’ll hear from Andrew Wilder, who specializes in WordPress tech and traffic, Danielle Liss, who’s a lawyer and focuses on sponsored content and all-things legal, and then Kate Ahl, who is our Pinterest Expert. All three are here on the podcast talking about what you need to know about traffic, sponsored content, and Pinterest in 2020.

It’s safe to say that 2020 has gotten off to a unique start, so these areas of traffic, working with sponsors, and social media need to be approached in a different way. Traffic is up, sponsors are adjusting their strategies, and Pinterest has reported higher users than ever before.

Today’s episode will equip you with some of the strategies and confidence you need to navigate this year as a business owner and blogger.

A quote from Danielle Liss’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'I think that this is a great chance for content creators to shine as the expert on what you think your audience would resonate with.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How traffic and ad revenue have been impacted by the coronavirus
  • Why you should be monitoring your uptime
  • Why you might not want to use words like “quarantine” or “coronavirus” in your posts
  • Why accessibility is going to be a big trend this year
  • How alt text works
  • How sponsored content can differ during this time
  • How you can pivot your sponsored content to serve your audience
  • Advice for pitching brands during the pandemic
  • How to ask your audience what they need right now
  • What CCPA means and how you can protect your site
  • How you know that you’ve included everything you should in your privacy policy
  • How Pinterest traffic has changed
  • How the Today tab on the Pinterest app works
  • How trends on Pinterest can influence your content calendar
  • How to find out which of your existing posts are performing well right now
  • What to do if your Pinterest account is marked as spam
  • How you can evolve your content based on what’s performing on Pinterest

Resources:

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 the Food Blogger Pro podcast my friends, I’m Alexa from Team FBP and we are so excited that you’ve decided to tune into the show today. I think today’s episode can officially be qualified as our first ever mega episode and that’s because it’s quite a bit longer than our typical episodes. Today Bjork is interviewing three of our Food Blogger Pro experts, and if you’re not a Food Blogger Pro member or maybe you are a member and you’re just not really sure what our experts do, they volunteer their time on the forum and during live Q&A’s to help our members out with their trickiest questions. Our experts specialize in certain topics like SEO, affiliate marketing, social media, email marketing, and more, and that’s what they teach our members about on Food Blogger Pro.

Alexa Peduzzi: So in today’s episode, you’ll hear from Andrew who specializes in WordPress tech and traffic. Danielle, who’s a lawyer and focuses on sponsored content and all things legal. And then Kate, who is our Pinterest expert. All three are here on the podcast today talking about what you as a blogger, creator, influencer, entrepreneur, or content creator, need to know about traffic sponsored content and Pinterest in 2020. It’s safe to say that 2020 has gotten off to a unique start. So these areas of traffic working with sponsors and social media need to be approached in quite a different way. Today’s episode will equip you with some of the strategies and confidence that you need to navigate this year as a business owner and a blogger. So without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Andrew, welcome back to the podcast.

Andrew Wilder: Hello. Glad to be here again.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we are in a unique season. That’s what I’ve been calling it on the podcast. I don’t know what else to call it, both in life and business, so I feel like we need to check in before we go, how are you doing personally? How’s NerdPress doing, the business? What are things like for you right now?

Andrew Wilder: Surprisingly well. I was used to working from home already and my entire team, I’ll work from home. So we’re an all remote company already. So we were luckily well positioned and it wasn’t much of a difference for us. Yeah, and I’m feeling very grateful that I have my health. It’s a very weird time. We’re in California where our leaders decided to help us flatten the curve quickly and it’s working. So it sucks to be staying home but it’s working. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel I think. I don’t know, I’m fascinated by it. You go outside and it’s quiet and oh my God, the air in Los Angeles is so clean now. It’s actually the cleanest it’s been in recorded history.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s probably like Minnesota air.

Andrew Wilder: Oh, it’s so nice, if we all go electric in our car, is it going to be like this all the time.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. See how nice this could be.

Andrew Wilder: I’ve been searching for positive silver lining things and to me that’s a great example where we can be like, hey look, totally unrelated, unintended consequence kind of thing. But hey, we have the power to change this. When we all unify something, I mean we can actually change the outcome and we can find positive things that were unexpected and actually continue.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That’s one of the things I almost teared up a little bit when I started to read some articles about the impact that a group of people can have on other people by doing things like staying at home. And in one sense it’s not a huge deal to stay at home, but in the other sense, it takes an element of personal sacrifice, especially if you might be in the category of not especially vulnerable to say, “Hey, you know what, even though I could go out and maybe it wouldn’t be at a huge risk, I’m going to stay at home.” And people do that and then it has an impact, and I think that speaks volumes to us as a society making decisions that help the broader society and not just ourselves. So it’s encouraging to see those things amidst a lot of hard news as well, so good to have those silver linings, like you said.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that’s so interesting about this time is that, and the purpose of these podcasts, which we’ll reiterate as we check in, is to have a touch point with each of the Food Blogger Pro experts. We have some incredible experts, we might not get to all of them, but we want to check in with a few different Food Blogger Pro experts to have a conversation about this specific season and considerations that they can make as it relates to the expert’s area of expertise.

Bjork Ostrom: And then also just broader scale, what are some things that we should be thinking about and implementing as it relates to 2020 and beyond. Because things change in our industry very quickly and we want to make sure that, as much as possible, that we’re staying on top of those things. And there’s lots of different things that we need to keep on top of that the experts know about. For those who aren’t familiar, who maybe haven’t listened to your podcast before or aren’t members of Food Blogger Pro, can you talk about kind of your area of expertise and what it is that you do with NerdPress?

Andrew Wilder: Sure. So NerdPress is a website maintenance company. Basically we have WordPress support subscription services where we do, I like to say all the unsexy stuff that nobody wants to do, but you really need to do to maintain your site. So things like backups and security scanning and site speed and all those like technical minutiae kind of things. So we sort of exist between hosting and developers. Some people call us their webmaster, which is kind of like, I feel like I’m in the 90s. But it’s I guess the closest word to what we do. So we help keep websites running smoothly.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And speaking specifically to, we’re recording this in April 2020. It’s kind of a unique time to keep websites running smoothly, especially for food and recipe websites. Can you talk about what you’re seeing as it relates to traffic and the potential impact that that has during this time? And maybe some guesses as to why that’s happening?

Andrew Wilder: So when all this started coming down, late February and March, I started getting very worried about the coming recession. And you know, most food bloggers and most of our clients make most of their money from advertising. And in a recession ad budgets are usually one of the first things they get cut. And so my concern has been, all of our clients are going to have a lot less revenue and they may not be able to keep us around. They may be struggling, we’re kind of bracing for impact and ad revenues have definitely gone down. I think last I heard they’re about 30 to 40% lower than they were, start of first quarter. We’re at the start of the second quarter, so at the start of the quarter it’s always a little bit lower. So going from March and April is a huge drop, but part of that’s just normal seasonal.

Bjork Ostrom: And can you explain that real quick before we get too far away from that to help people understand the seasonality of ad budgets apart from kind of a global pandemic, like just in a normal year, how that works?

Andrew Wilder: I don’t know the exact why, but basically it’s quarterly. They’re quarterly and annual cycles, so at the start of a quarter, so January 1st or April 1st, budgets tend to be lower, ad spend tends to be low and by the end of the quarter it’s ramped up. I think part of that is as you get closer to the end of the quarter, there’s remaining money that needs to be spent in a budget. And so marketers will start spending money like crazy to spend their budget because a lot of times if you don’t spend it, you lose it in the next quarter. And so we tend to see like this kind of a roller coaster every quarter. And then annually, like the fourth quarter is the big, big quarter. At the end of the year you’ve got all the holidays and all of that.

Bjork Ostrom: it’s like the perfect storm where it’s… so each quarter, so you think quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, quarter four in the first quarter. In the beginning of the year everybody’s ad budget is restarting. So not only is it the first quarter but it’s the beginning of the year. And then so they spend through it, like you said, it maybe gets to the end of quarter one, it will tick up because they want to get through that quarter’s budget. But at the end of the year, not only is it like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving in the US, so lots of people are making recipes. But also, like you said, at ad budgets are at the end of the year and the end of the quarter. So it’s like this perfect storm of high earning potential, which is great if you have a food and recipe site.

Bjork Ostrom: But you’re saying not only is it resetting because it’s April 1st so the start of a new quarter, but then there’s also this global pandemic where companies are starting to pull back on their ad spend. And so that obviously it was something that you had talked about, something that you were a little bit nervous about, but then there’s maybe a flip side to that, which is traffic. Have you seen that with the sites that you work with across the board?

Andrew Wilder: Yep. So people are home, right? They’re stuck at home and they’re now cooking for themselves. And so everybody is searching for recipes and traffic is up significantly on many sites. I checked one site this morning and her traffic has doubled in the last three weeks. Like eye-popping numbers to the point where she’s got to upgrade her hosting or change hosts because it’s changed the equation. So, even though the ad revenue might be down, say 30% per page view, if your traffic doubled, you’re actually making a lot more money.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So it’s interesting to see. I was pulling up for Pinch of Yum the other day and I think we had a high of, it was maybe like 15 or $16 for RPM and a low of it was maybe like eight. And obviously that’s going to be very different for your site, for your niche, for advertisers that are working with your site, how many ads you’re showing. But Pinch of Yam, the high compared to the low was like a straight 50% so like you said, there’s this significant cut that happens, but then there’s this uptick in traffic. So in some sense it kind of evens out a little bit. So you haven’t, for your business specifically necessarily, haven’t noticed a difference with people not being able to afford it anymore. And you said even on the flip side, still having people reach out and say, “Hey, I’m interested in working with you as a new client.”

Andrew Wilder: Yep. So it, I mean new people coming to us is definitely slowed down compared to last year, but people are still coming and if your site’s doing well and you’ve still got money coming in, this is a great time to be focusing on your site and improving your site. So it makes a lot of sense that people would sign up with us. I have someone who we talked last summer and she finally decided to sign up yesterday, right? Because it’s also a quiet time where, I don’t know, this is like this business side my shift and priorities are shifting and I feel like a lot of the noise has gone away and I don’t mean like airplanes and traffic, that too, but like there’s a clarity almost of what’s important now and what do you really want to focus on?

Andrew Wilder: And so yeah, it’s, I’m actually enjoying that quiet time. Last year we were swamped with new signups and had a wait list and that was great, for us, not great if you have to wait two months to work with us. Now we don’t have a wait list, we’re keeping up with our own reporting and we’re able to spend time working on what we’re calling, quiet time projects, where we’re actually doing things to improve our business on the backend that our clients may or may not see, but it makes us more efficient. I think you and I have talked for over the years about 1% improvements every day, right? And so we’re actually focusing on that and I’m trying to emphasize that stuff as much as possible right now while we’ve got the time so that whenever things pick back up, we’ll be positioned to keep running.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s awesome. One of the things that you had mentioned was somebody that needed to upgrade their hosting. When does that happen and how do you know when there is the need to do that? Will your host reach out to you and say like, “Hey, you got to upgrade.” Or do you look for a certain measurements in terms of performance? How do you know when to upgrade your host?

Andrew Wilder: There’s a lot of factors in hosting from a, my traffic has increased and can my server handle it question. You’re going to start to see problems, probably micro outages, if you’re working on the site and it gives you some error, like a server overload error and then it works again later. That’s hard to tell for sure. In in a bad scenario you’re going to get emails from, from readers, or messages on Facebook saying, “Hey, your site’s down.” Obviously you never want to get to that point.

Andrew Wilder: But one of the things you can do to keep track of this is have uptime monitoring, which is basically another server that pings your server. It goes to your server as if a visitor were doing it and it goes to your homepage or another page on your site, once a minute or once every five minutes, and checks to make sure your site’s online. And that can do it 24/7 so that way if you have outages when you’re not working, you’ll still know about them. So that’s one of the services we include in our support plans because that’s a really good way to know if your host is really providing the uptime that they say they will.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So can you explain that concept? If your host is explaining or if your host is providing the uptime that they say that they will, what what does that mean?

Andrew Wilder: I guess it used to be more like this in their early two thousands where it’d be like 99% uptime, which would mean 99% of the time your servers working. But 1% of the time is a lot actually. And I think, I’m trying to remember the math, if it’s 99.9% uptime, I think that means your site is still down for 14 minutes a day. Like 0.1%.

Bjork Ostrom: Which is not ideal.

Andrew Wilder: Not ideal. And if it’s three in the morning when nobody’s using your site, that’s fine. If it’s at noon right after you publish a new post, that’s a problem. So most hosts now don’t focus on a percentage so much and it’s kind of pointless. Like really, you want your site to be up period. And you want it to be up and weather the storm when there’s high traffic, like anything going viral, a lot of pages at once because web traffic isn’t even throughout the day or even throughout the week, it’s going to vary. Most people sleep at night, right? Most people are searching for recipes before dinner and so there are big spikes in usage on your server, so whatever server you’re using or whatever hosting you’re using needs to be able to have the capacity to scale to that level, to your peak usage. And then you can…

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a recommendation for uptime monitoring? Is there a service that people could look into or check out for that?

Andrew Wilder: There are a few good ones. Uptime Robot is one that I think they have a free tier that’ll check your site every five minutes. We’re actually now using their premium service and so I think they’re a good entry point.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Andrew Wilder: Pingdom is another one that I think has something.

Bjork Ostrom: And that’s what we use. So if we have any URL that’s important for us. So all of the businesses, Pinch of Yum, Food Blogger Pro, WP Tasty, Nutrifox and then also support sites, things like that. We want to enter that in because we get an email, and in some cases a text message, that says, “Hey the site’s down.” Because these are businesses, we want to make sure that they’re up and running. Obviously it’s not as important if you have like a personal blog that’s not a business. But even if you make a few dollars a month, you can calculate what that cost is when your site is down and you’re not able to earn income from your site when it’s down. So great little tip there to set up to make sure that you can keep an eye on that stuff.

Bjork Ostrom: Anything else that specifically for this season that we’re in? This season meaning, people working from home, web traffic potentially going up, ad revenue potentially probably going down for a period of time. Anything else that we should be thinking about or considering as it relates to kind of the health of our site from a webmasters point of view?

Andrew Wilder: It’s kind of business as usual except the traffic’s going up so you’d need to be paying attention to your hosting to make sure it can handle it. Beyond that, this is what we’ve already built, right, so it’s the same system. I think, thinking about content is really important to right now. A couple of quick pointers. If you have ads on your site, you don’t want to be using words like coronavirus or quarantine because those are called negative keywords. Advertisers can put it in a list of words that they don’t want their ads to appear next to basically. And you can be pretty sure that a lot of companies don’t want their ads next to things talking about COVID–19.

Andrew Wilder: So if you’re going to talk about what’s going on right now, try not to use those specific words. You can say, “When you’re stuck at home.” or “Wondering what to make for the family tonight?” The other bonus of doing that is that will help your content stay a little more evergreen. A year from now, you don’t necessarily want the post to be talking about coronavirus, but you will want it to be talking about, “Hey, what to do when you’re stuck at home and don’t know what to cook from your pantry.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so the idea being, if you’re publishing a recipe, if you’re publishing a piece of content from an advertising optimization perspective, including keywords about coronavirus, COVID–19, whatever it might be, is going to potentially negatively impact ad revenue from that specific page because the people who are running ads against that content will look through and say, hey, if it includes this keyword, COVID–19, corona virus, super sick, whatever it might be, like negative keywords that they don’t want to be associated with, they’re not going to run a chicken noodle soup recipe against that or ad or any type of like food related content, they don’t want that appearing next to those keywords. It’s interesting the idea of talking about it because I feel like it’s important to open up that conversation. But maybe separating that out and saying like, on Pinch of Yum, Lindsay will talk about COVID–19 or a quarantine or staying at home, but it’s in a dedicated post.

Bjork Ostrom: So the idea with those is less of, hey we want to create a post that’s going to get a lot of traffic and then earn ad income off of that. It’s more for, for Lindsay and I don’t want to speak too much for her, it’s more of a chance to say, “Hey, let’s check in for you people who are, we are connected with to have a conversation around this because it’s important. It’s top of mind and it’s something that we want to have a conversation about. But what I hear you saying is to be strategic about that and maybe not include a lot of that conversation on a post that might be evergreen, that’s a recipe that’s going to exist two years from now and you want to continue to earn and confirm that. Is that a safe, a recap of what you were talking about?

Andrew Wilder: Absolutely and the negative keywords are done on a per page basis. So it’s totally fine to use these terms. in a post like you’re talking about. Just be aware that those pages probably won’t earn a lot of ad revenue compared to others.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Awesome. So some really good considerations for right now and the reality is for the work that you do and your area of expertise, like best practice now is kind of best practice always. And I’d also be interested to hear you talk about that as we look towards 2020, so things are constantly changing and adjusting and like you said, both within your business helping bloggers and then publishers and bloggers ourselves, we want to be constantly improving. So what are some of the considerations that we should be making as we look forward this year, just in general, unrelated to this unique season that we’re in, that are important for us to think about and to continually get better at. Is there anything that’s currently happening and publishers should be aware of?

Andrew Wilder: I think the big thing for 2020 and well it was going to be the big thing for 2020 until it got eclipsed, is really accessibility. I’ve been talking about it for about a year now and really digging into it because I’ve kind of seen it coming where, Google years ago pushed for SSL, right back in 2014 it became a ranking factor and then they start pushing us…

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain what that is, SSL, for those who aren’t familiar.

Andrew Wilder: Sure. That’s making sure your traffic is all, everything served from your server to the visitor is all served encrypted and secure. So it’ll be HTTPS instead of HTTP. So that’s what gets you the little padlock in the browser. It’s more secure, it’s faster, and it’s a search engine ranking factor. So they’d pushed that starting in 2014, everybody’s pretty much on the SSL bandwagon already, we’ve all gone HTTPS, that’s kind of become the default. Google really pushed that and it’s actually a much better thing for the internet and for the world.

Andrew Wilder: And then the next big wave of things was site speed and now everybody’s worried about site speed and making sure your site is fast. As a side note, I will say site speed is not the be all end all of SEO. It’s very important. But as a ranking factor, it’s a small one as a user…

Bjork Ostrom: When you say ranking factor, I think most people know that, but super high levelc can you recap what that is? So what you’re saying is SSL is a ranking factor, site speed might be a ranking factor, so it’s important that it’s encrypted, it’s important that it’s fast. All of these are ranking factors. What are those? Do we know how many of those there are in the world?

Andrew Wilder: So that’s Google’s secret sauce is they have an algorithm that has all these various ranking factors that takes into account all of it. So the page content where words are on the page, what the links are from one page to another, how fast your site is, the SSL, how many people click through and so on, what you link to, it’s hundreds and hundreds of factors. Google also changes those multiple times I think. I think the average like two changes to the algorithm a day or something, or maybe it’s several. So it’s constantly shifting. They’re constantly tweaking the algorithm so nobody knows it’s. I mean it is top, top, top secret because that’s what makes Google, Google.

Andrew Wilder: And the answer is not to try to game the system. That used to work in 2000 right? Or in 1998. So a lot of what Google does is detecting when you’re trying to be inauthentic and manipulate the ranking. And so we don’t want to do that, but we do want to do is follow the best practices. And so there are technical best practices like SSL and site speed, and then there are content best practices. There is, as a usability, making your site easy to use for visitors. Really what Google wants, their goal is to return the best possible answer to somebody’s question. That’s it. It’s really that simple. And so they’re using this algorithm and try to figure that out. And so if you, if you focus on providing the best possible answer to somebody question, you’re going to rank well yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And the interesting thing with that is part art. Like there’s an art and a science with all of this and the art of it is how to be a creator and publish content that is helpful for somebody who’s looking to have a specific problem answered or to find a certain type of content. The science part is more of the technical end, SSL, having a really fast site and this element of accessibility. Is that a ranking factor and can you talk about what that is?

Andrew Wilder: So accessibility is basically making sure your site is usable for everyone. So the traditional thinking was like if somebody is blind, then they need to use a screen reader. And so you need to make your site work with a screen reader. In reality, accessibility needs run on a continuum. By the time we’re all 70 or 80 we’re not going to have great eyesight, right> so accessibility is important to everybody at some point in your life. There’s also a lot of disabilities that are not permanent and, like we tend to think of these big ones where like somebody lost a limb or somebody blind, but there’s situational disabilities. If you’ve got a screaming toddler running around and you’re trying to get work done, that’s the disability and the harder a site is to use in that context, it’s exacerbated. So if your site is easy to use and understand and there’s some chaos going on in the background, that person will have an easier time using your site. So accessibility is really just usability for everyone.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s interesting. I love to draw analogies to other industries and I think of commercial real estate and there’s accessibility standards within commercial real estate to make sure that you don’t have a step that’s two feet tall that prohibits people, whether it’s somebody using a Walker or a wheelchair or a small child. Like you want to make sure that people can get into the building and access it and have a safe experience. There’s also that version that exists on the web to make sure people can use the content that you’re publishing, but how do we know if our content is accessible or not? Is there a test for it? Can we run the scanner through it? Is there an audit? What does that look like?

Andrew Wilder: So there are some automated testing tools. They’re not perfect, but they’re a good start. WebAIM-

Andrew Wilder: They’re not perfect, but they’re a good start. WebAIM has one and I’m sure we can put this in the show notes. I also did a couple of guest posts for Mediavine recently, and so we should link to those because that has an overview of some accessibility and linked to a ton of resources. There is a standard set of guidelines called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The current version is 2.1. And so, within that there is then three tiers of accessibility. There’s A, AA, and AAA. AAA is really, really, really hard. That tends to be for very specific populations. The gold standard really is AA. So what you want is your site to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant.

Andrew Wilder: Now, I know it’s kind of ridiculous, but if you know that that’s what you’re looking for, then you can actually find the set of guidelines. And if you were doing something like a redesign and you’re working with a developer, you can say, “Hey, I want the site to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant,” and you can put that in your contract. And then for the parts that they’re responsible for, they can actually meet those guidelines. So you don’t have to define it. You don’t have to say, “My site should be accessible,” and have it be vague. These are very concrete, specific things, and you either do or don’t meet each of the individual guidelines that way.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a couple of examples of what that looks like, specifically? So will your site look different? Will the experience be different? What are some tangible things about accessibility that you could explain to people to give an idea of what that actually means and looks like?

Andrew Wilder: Sure. So, a good example is font contrast. If you have a light gray font on a white background, if your body, if all your paragraph text, is it like a light- or medium-gray on a white background, that’s a low contrast font and it’s hard to read. Simply changing it to black text on white background increases the contrast and makes it more legible for everyone. For a while, we had really light font colors, right? The light-gray design looks super cool, but I don’t know, I’m in my early forties and have pretty good eyesight. I find myself squinting to read sometimes, right? And you can actually run your colors through a contrast calculator and for body fonts I think it’s supposed to be 3.5 to one like there’s an actual number. You basically put in the color of your, your foreground and color of your background. It says, “Hey, your font contrast is 2.7; it fails,” and you make your foreground color darker, and it gets to 3.8, and it says you pass. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting to think about the ramifications of this for individuals who are using your site, and we’ll come and have a better experience, literally be able to consume your content in ways that they couldn’t before. Other than this being a good thing that we should do to make websites accessible for other people, is this then factored into Google as a search algorithm? Is there a business strategy behind it as well, and is that something we should be considering, or do you know, is it included in the ranking factors? And if so, at what level, and obviously we don’t know exactly what that is, but do you have any sense for that?

Andrew Wilder: I’ve talked to a couple of SEO experts and my sense of it is right now accessibility, quote unquote, is not a specific ranking factor. However, accessibility equals usability and usability is considered in ranking.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, can you explain the difference between those two things?

Andrew Wilder: Honestly, there isn’t a difference. That’s the big thing, but it’s about making sure you’re site is accessible to everybody or usable for everybody. So, I used to think of accessibility as only being for screen readers or alternative assistant browsers, right? Or if somebody has their images turned off, and you can’t see images, so you need to see alt tech. It’s more… Accessibility done right improves the usability for everybody who wants to use your site. People who are 20 years old and have 20/20 vision and people who are 70 years old and don’t, right? So we don’t want to get too far in the weeds, I think, today on this because accessibility is a huge topic. There are people who make their living helping make websites accessible. It’s a big project.

Bjork Ostrom: How about for somebody who doesn’t work with a developer who has WordPress, are there things that they can be doing, maybe they have a little bit of technical knowledge but aren’t super technical. Is there anything that they can be doing to try their best to have an accessible, usable site?

Andrew Wilder: Yes, so there’s sort of two sides to it again. One is in your theme. Your theme is going to determine a lot of these features. So, one of the requirements is that your site should be navigable with the keyboard only. So if you can’t use a mouse for whatever reason, you should be able to hit the tab key and step through all your menus and then press enter to open a page or tab through all the links. So, that’s not something you’re doing when you’re writing a post. It’s something that your theme should be handling. So you want to be using a well coded theme that does meet accessibility guidelines. If it doesn’t work for something like that, you should go to the theme developer and say, Hey, can you guys please release an update for this? So, there’s all the theme and sort of in the framework of your site that’s going to be sort of built into your theme.

Andrew Wilder: And then the part that you really control as a publisher, as a content creator, is what’s in your content. And so you want to be focusing on especially things like alt tags. An alt tag is the alternative text field for any sort of image. A few years ago Pinterest was reading the alt tags and making that the default description. And so people started writing Pinterest descriptions in their alt tags and they’d put 10 hashtags in there. So, then what happens is let’s say somebody is using a screen reader and it’s literally narrating the page. It’s going through, it’s going to narrate to the alt tag on that page and on that image. And then when it hits the next image, it’s going to narrate that one. So if somebody is trying to, you know, listen to the screen or you’re going through the post and you get to an image and it says, “Bake this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah cake, you know, hashtag chocolate hashtag easy hashtag yum,” it’s going to be really freaking annoying, right?

Bjork Ostrom: And if it’s every single image that has the same description, it’s one of the reasons it was the is the primary… Tasty pins does… there’s a whole slew of different things that that plugin does right now, but that was the impetus for it was wanting to separate out the Pinterest description from the alt text, which now with Tasty Pins, we can do a really rich Pinterest description that’s kind of a marketing description and a really boring alt text, which essentially is describing what the image is. And can you describe how that is an accessibility feature for somebody who’s looking at a post using a screen reader or listening to a post using a screen reader? How does the all text fit into that?

Andrew Wilder: So it’s going to literally speak the words that you’ve typed in as the alt text. So if, let’s say you have five pictures in a post, and they’re all this beautiful chocolate cake you’ve photographed, right? And they’re all just different angles and one’s the whole cake, ones with a slice cut out of it, one’s the top view, one’s the side view, right? Let’s say you put the word chocolate cake or, let’s say you’re probably not going to do that. You’re probably going to say “easy, fast, whole wheat chocolate cake” or something, right? Whatever your target keyword is. Now let’s say you make that the alt text for every image. So it’s just going to say “easy whole wheat chocolate cake” every time it goes through an image. That’s not helping that person who’s listening to that screen reader. So it is okay to use the keywords you’re targeting in the descriptions if it’s natural. Google does scan the alt tags and knows what they are. So, you want to help Google understand what the image is also. So, instead of doing something like that, you could say “the completed chocolate cake,” or “a slice of chocolate cake on a blue plate.” It doesn’t need to be a long description. It shouldn’t be a long description. You don’t need to say photograph of or image of, just say, “a slice of chocolate cake with a bite taken out of it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Kind of like if you were looking at a post and trying to describe it to somebody else who wasn’t seeing it, how would you describe that? And simply describe what that image is.

Andrew Wilder: That’s exactly what it should be. Not kind of like. It is, exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, so one of the questions that I have about accessibility, this hasn’t happened to us, but I have heard of people who have some version of a lawsuit brought against them because their website isn’t accessible. Do you have any clients where that’s happened to them, or have you heard of that happening? And why is that happening?

Andrew Wilder: Luckily, I don’t have any clients yet. I have heard of it happening. I know somebody who it’s happened to. So, you talked about building codes for accessibility, right? So you have to have wheelchair ramps. You have to have handrails in the bathroom and all these logistic things. That all comes from the Americans with Disabilities Act, which basically says if you are open for business, you need to be accessible for everyone. Well, there has been an increasing number of lawsuits saying, “Hey, if you’re a business on the web, you need to be accessible for everyone as well.” And last year, a case went to the Supreme Court. Domino’s Pizza was sued because, I think it was their app that wasn’t accessible or fully accessible. Domino’s was sued, and they lost. And so, there was already a lot of lawsuits happening.

Andrew Wilder: I think in 2018 there were over 4,000 accessibility lawsuits on websites. That is only going to climb right now. So basically the interpretation of the ADA now is if you have a business online, it must be accessible to all. And so, lawyers are finding clients to represent who are harmed in some way by your business not being accessible to them, and they’re suing people. And I think Danielle is probably going to be a better person to talk to about this in the nitty gritty of the legal stuff, but your site should be accessible, and if it’s not, you may get sued. And I’ve heard anecdotally that sometimes lawyers are just looking for a quick settlement. I think there may be quote-unquote ambulance-chasing going on, which is disappointing. But at the same time, as sort of our system works, and that’s going to get us home, make our sites more accessible.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think important, I asked not to have it exist as some kind of fear or scare tactic to move on this, but just the reality of something that’s happening, and I’ve had people that I know really well who have been dealing with this, and so I think it’s worth stating at the appropriate level of concern. And I think that level of concern is worth mentioning. Now, this site was an eCommerce site, and so a different level of maybe somebody who’s just starting off as a publisher. So, if you’re just getting your blog started getting it off the ground, it’s not necessarily something that you should have a huge level of panic over, but it is something that you should be aware of and concerned with. And so, I’m glad that you brought it up as something to really be attentive to in this season.

Bjork Ostrom: Is there any way that, just kind of as we kind of close out on this topic, is there any way that people can feel like they’re making progress on it and understand the progress that they’re making against it? Would you recommend that they do some of these scans like you said, like the WebAIM, and just kind of get a sense for, maybe, where things are? Are there free tools that they can do to get a sense?

Andrew Wilder: Absolutely. I think WebAIM is… I think it’s wave.webaim.org. I think the tool is a little… If you don’t know what you’re looking at, and it’s got lots of little icons and things and shows you everything that’s wrong with your site, and it’s a little hard to prioritize, but it is a good tool just to get a quick overview. A lot of this stuff is not rocket science. It’s not, “You must have a 14 or 16 point font.” It’s if you look at your website on a variety of devices and the font is large enough and easy to read and it’s got enough contrast and you underline your hyperlinks, it’s lots of little things that all add up. I think the Mediavine articles are probably the best place to start. I tried to kind of cover the basics of what you as a content creator can do.

Andrew Wilder: Another example is a hyperlink, if you link to something in your text, don’t use color as the only means of conveying information. That’s one of the rules or guidelines. So, the traditional hyperlink was blue with an underline, which is horribly ugly, right? But it worked really well. Everybody recognizes that as a link.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And it’s interesting even looking through Pinch of Yum, it’s like that’s exactly what it is, where we have a gray font and a blue font for links, but I can see if you don’t see the distinction between those, it’s going to be really hard to understand that that is a link. And so, adding a line underneath, it doesn’t matter what color it is, you’ll more clearly understand that that’s a link. So we’re going through redesign right now for Pinch of Yum, but a great consideration for us to make sure that we implement the new site.

Andrew Wilder: Yeah, some of these things are again in the theme, right? You can change your font size and your color and your underlining of links site-wide pretty easily. So, I think for somebody starting out, the thing to focus on more is the stuff that’s hard to change later. It’s a real hassle to have to change your alt tags later because you have to go through and it’s a long slog to edit the alt tag on every image, right? So really, I’m going to emphasize alt tags.

Andrew Wilder: Another one that people don’t think about a lot is what text is actually in the link. You should be intentional with your link text. So instead of saying click here and making that the link, you want to say, “For more information, see my recipe for chocolate chip cookies.” And make chocolate chip cookies, the actual clickable text. That does two things. One is it helps the visitor know what they’re going to get when they click on it. It’s especially important when they don’t have the context of the surrounding words or surrounding images. So, if you’re using a screen reader and it gives you an excerpt of each post and says, click here after each excerpt, it’s going going to be really easy to lose track of which click here, you want to actually follow. But if the recipe is clickable, then you know what you’re going to get.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So idea being descriptive in your links as opposed to directive. So, chocolate chip cookies is linking to chocolate chip cookies. That make sense. If you just see click here, you’re not necessarily going to understand just by seeing that link, what that is referring to. To do that description again, let’s say somebody sitting across the table from you and you say, “Okay, this is a link and it says click here. What do you think it’s about?” And it’s like, well, no idea. But if you said, “Hey, this is a link and it says chocolate chip cookies recipe. What do you think it’s about?” Probably a chocolate chip cookies recipe. So it’s a little bit more informative in terms of what that link is actually about.

Andrew Wilder: Yep. So they’re, they’re sort of stop words, click here, learn more, read more, stuff like that where it’s not informative on its own. And so the context is very important.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I feel like we could dive deep on a lot of this stuff. We could go through and talk best practices and that’s one of the things that I love about checking in with you, Andrew, is we always get stuff that we can take away, take action on, and continue to learn about, which is really important. I also want to make sure that as we wrap up here, we’re doing a little bit shorter check-ins with experts, but I know that people are going to want to not only learn more, which they can do by going to the show notes for this episode, but also potentially connect with you and work with you and your team at NerdPress. If people are interested in doing that, can you talk about what the next steps would be and how they can reach out and connect with you?

Andrew Wilder: Absolutely. So you can find us at nerdpress.net, and if you have any questions you can email us at [email protected], but if you go on our website, there’s a big button that says “Get WordPress Help.” And I’ve intentionally named that link. So, that’ll take you to a page that talks about our support plans. We have three different tiers of support, so hopefully something for everyone. And then you can just go ahead and sign up and we’ll get started, or if you have any questions about how we can work together, just shoot us an email, and I’ll get back to you as fast as I can.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, Andrew. Thanks so much for coming back on the podcast.

Andrew Wilder: Always a pleasure. Thank you.

Bjork Ostrom: Danielle, welcome back to the podcast.

Danielle Liss: Thank you so much.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we were, as I’ve done checking in with every expert, just kind of rehashing the weird world that we are living in, both from a life perspective where it’s suddenly our lives are upended, and you’re now having to teach and your kindergartners doing remote distance learning, which is just so crazy to think about, but also business. First of all, I’m curious to know, for you to do a quick recap for those who haven’t listened to or connected with you on the Food Blogger Pro forums. Can you do a quick recap of what it is that you do in the area that you specialize for both of your businesses?

Danielle Liss: Absolutely. So I’m a lawyer, and I have two different businesses. One is Businessese, which is more DIY legal templates, and we have things like contracts and website policies that if you are comfortable with, you can then customize those for your own use. I also have a law firm, Liss Legal, which is where I do direct work one-on-one with clients. I do a lot of contract drafting, negotiation, website policies, intellectual property, the whole gamut, and I work with a lot of small digital businesses in that realm.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So a lot of publishers, blogs like Pinch of Yum will partner with you at Liss Legal to help us out with contract reviews or maybe website and policy pages, things like that. And one of the things I’d actually be interested in is what does that, if you’re looking at the day-to-day, week-to-week of this unique season that we’re in right now, what do things look like and what are considerations as publishers that we need to take into consideration in regards to our content, in regards to sponsor content? Are things different now than they were three months ago?

Danielle Liss: Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, if we were talking three months ago, I would have said just keep going as usual talked about some of the negotiation points, how to maybe increase the revenue that you’re bringing in by some of the negotiation, but now, I think that we are in a very uncertain time, and I think that it is extremely hard to try to put something into writing when you don’t know what’s going to happen. And so I think that-

Bjork Ostrom: What do you mean by that?

Danielle Liss: I think that, so for example, if you have something that’s supposed to go live in June, how do you know what’s going to happen? How do you know what’s going to be going on in June that will make this post not seem, for lack of a better word, a little bit tone deaf? Because I think that many brands do want to be a bit cautious. They don’t want to seem like they’re out of touch with what people are dealing with. So, I think it’s really important to be a little bit flexible when you’re negotiating now because it may be that due dates change. It may be that some of the deliverables could change a little bit where someone might’ve gone into something saying, “I’m going to need you to do an in-person store visit.” That’s a lot harder now. So it may be that they’re now saying, “Can you talk about, let’s say for my grocery store, I know they have, I don’t remember what it’s called, the thing where you can either pick it up curbside or you can get it delivered.

Bjork Ostrom: Curbside pickup or delivery, yeah.

Danielle Liss: It has a fancy name. I don’t remember what it is. So let’s say you’re going to use that. They may be asking you to change what some of those things are to say, you know what, we were going to have you come in and do a store visit and talk about what your experience was, take some pictures, but now we want you to talk about your experience using Instacart or using the delivery service. So, it may be really about creating some flexibility and being willing to communicate and work with the brand. I think that this is one of those times where I’m always going to tell you stick to the terms of the contract, but this is the best time to be in communication with who you’re working with and really make sure that you are covering what your audience needs and what they need, so it’s probably a great time for you to touch base with them and say, “Hey, here’s how I think I can portray you in a way that will really resonate during this unusual time that we’re living in.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Do you have any advice for kicking that conversation off? It’s kind of like a version of negotiation, but maybe said differently. It’s just clear communication. How do you go about doing that if you already have a contract or a relationship that’s been established with those expectations in a way that feels positive and proactive to the brand?

Danielle Liss: I would say for most of those agreements, let’s say you’re in a year long ambassadorship type of agreement with someone, let’s say it’s with a grocery store chain, and you know that throughout the year you’re going to be doing different work with them, whether it’s holiday based, whether it is just time of year based, and I would talk to them because you know this is a time of year when I think we would start to talk more about barbecuing and I am from the Northeast and I would call it a cookout. I don’t know what people call it in other places. I know it’s called a barbecue in other places, so I know that people would be talking more about those. So maybe if you know that you’ve got something like that coming up, reach out to whomever your contact is and say, “Hey, I wanted to touch base with you on this. I have an idea that I think would really resonate with my audience.”

Danielle Liss: Because really what is the brand’s goal throughout everything? Their goal is to get eyes on the content and to build loyalty and to get people to buy their stuff, right? So if you have an idea that can help them do that, pitch it. I don’t think there is a bad time because no one knows what’s going on right now. The number of times, and I don’t even want to say it right now, but the number of times I have said the word unprecedented in recent weeks, I want to ban it from my vocabulary.

Bjork Ostrom: It really is, yeah, the buzzword.

Danielle Liss: But it’s the word that I’ve been trying to come up with a good synonym for it. I don’t have one, so I’m just going to say it. It is unprecedented. The folks that you work with for the brands also don’t necessarily know how to navigate these waters. So for me, I think it’s a perfect time for you to take the role as expert, as a content creator, to say, “Here is what I’m seeing in terms of this has spiked on my site. This is something people are really interested in.” And goodness, if you’ve got any type of bread recipes, I’m guessing that that’s one of them. So if you know you have this piece of content that’s doing really well, what is it that you can do to try to shift those contracts a little bit into this kind of content that you really see people consuming?

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative) And have you seen… It’s such an interesting time to observe the different economies, whether that be grocery stores as an example of being an obvious one, manufacturing, but publishing is also a little economy, and sponsored content is a sub part of that, so working with brands. Do you see that part of the publishing industry, from the publishers you work with and just in general your sense of things, has that kind of paused in terms of new relationships? Or are companies starting to step back into that now? What can we expect as publishers in terms of the potential of kicking off a new relationship versus having to wait a few months?

Danielle Liss: I definitely saw a pause in March. I think life paused in March for most people as we all got used to, even for most people who didn’t work from home, who were in an office, everything was different. I think now that we realize this is going to be a longer-term situation for most people, I think now we’re starting to see the conversations happening again. I think if you have a pitch that you can take to somebody, I don’t think it’s a bad time to do it. I think that we always need to be sensitive to whomever we are talking to and whatever their audience looks like. If you’re talking about a luxury brand kind of content, that might be something that is not as well-received, depending upon what it is. It all depends I think on who the brand is, what your content is, and what your audience is looking for, but if you can show them, my stuff is doing great right now. Here’s what’s really working, here is how I think I can position you in my content right now for these strange times that we’re living in, I don’t think it’s a bad time to have those conversations. And they may come back and tell you, “Our budget is on pause.” Ask them, “Do you have any idea when your budget might…”

Danielle Liss: Pause, ask them, “Do you have any idea when your budget might be off of? Pause. And when you might be able to take new contracts, because I’d love to follow up with you then.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s interesting I think about other industries, to kind of get my bearings as it relates to publishing and blogs, both advertising and sponsored content, kind of a sub area of advertising. But it’s not like you would watch TV and there wouldn’t be any commercials. The spirit of those have changed though. The things that really move you and the things that connect, are relevant to where we are right now, and I see that. I’ve mentioned this previously on a podcast, but there was an Uber commercial and it was people who were sheltering at home or staying at home, and it was little snippets and windows, literally sometimes a window into their world. And then at the end it said, “Thank you for not riding Uber.” And it had a URL of uber.com/coronavirus, I think. That was really impactful. I’ve mentioned a couple times, I’ve shared it with some people as an interesting way that a brand is continuing to have a conversation with people.

Bjork Ostrom: And point being, I think that you can continue to, as a brand and as a publisher, have a platform that you can deliver a message that feels right, but it’s probably not the same message that would have existed three months ago. And like you said, it has to be right for your audience and for that brand, and so there’s some kind of creativity that has to go into the process of crafting that and knowing how your audience receives that. Do you have any recommendations for, I mean, is it just simply asking? Is it reaching out and saying, “Hey, we’d love to work with you. Here’s the idea of how I can imagine working with you. Are you open to that? Are you doing that in this season?” Maybe it’s just simply asking that question.

Danielle Liss: I think that, that’s the best way to do it. I would treat these more as proposals, because one of the big things that I know many brands would typically be planning for right now is back to school.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: Well, no one knows what that looks like right now, or for summer, or summer camp, and things like that. It’s really hard to know. So I think that it is going to be a lot of creativity on both sides. So I think that this is a great chance for content creators to shine as the expert on what you think your audience would resonate with. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the statistics about puzzles recently.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: Did you see any of that?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Impossible to buy.

Danielle Liss: Yeah. Zulily had a puzzle sale recently, and I was, “I’ve got to get some of these.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: But, I believe that they said they used to sell maybe… if the stock was like one a minute for, is it Ravensburger? I think that’s the big brand, that it is now up to 20 per minute, they’ve seen this massive increase. So, how fun could it be to create some content around a night of, whether it’s a date night or a family night or the kind of food that you could create for puzzles with your family. And I think that it’s just looking at it in a different way as to what you think will resonate with people.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: And what do you think that the trends are? What do you think your audience wants the most? And if you’re not comfortable pitching right now, because I truly believe that if this is a time where you need to take a little bit of a break-

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: … absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: Maybe this is a time for you to be more in contact with your audience. Do a survey, see what they’re interested in right now, because once you are ready to pitch, that would be great data for you to have that you can take to the brands and say, “I asked my audience, here’s what they want the most right now.”

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. So on the advertising side of things, display advertising, there’s pretty concrete data that brands are pressing pause or at least tapping the brakes in terms of spend, you can see a decrease anywhere from 30% to 50%. but for a lot of publishers, especially in the food space but also just in general, there’s potential for an uptick in traffic just because more people are consuming content. So not that it necessarily evens out, but you see that data pretty obviously, traffic and ad spend. Do you get any sense from the brands that you’ve worked with, the publishers that you work with, that ad, that sponsored content spend, will go down for this quarter, for the next quarter? Even just anticipating what you’ve seen in the past when the economy shifts, do you get any sense for expectations that we should have in regards to spend?

Danielle Liss: I wouldn’t be surprised if the rates go down, but if you can show that you think you’re going to have impact, it might be really about your presentation and what your offer is.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: I think that what we are going to see is more careful spending. So I think that brands are really going to want to make sure that they are getting good value for the money that they are spending right now.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that makes sense. And where maybe would have been a little bit more loose and fast in terms of spending money in certain areas to try and get through their budget and get as much exposure as possible, now they might be a little bit more methodical and slow in that spend in order to make it go as far as possible.

Danielle Liss: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So, a quick shout out for any Food Blogger Pro members, make sure to check out the sponsor content bootcamp that we’ve done in the past. When you talk about some of those ideas of negotiation and considerations around talking with brands, that would be a great content for members to check out. I want to pull back a little bit right now and talk about 2020, so if we kind of get out of a place that’s kind of hard to get out of, which is our day-to-day, week-to-week reality right now, but I think it’s refreshing sometimes just to talk about, “Hey, let’s talk about in general best practice, things we can be considering, 2020,” there’s a lot of question marks around it and what it looks like. But there are things that would be considered best practice especially as it relates to some of the legal structure for our site and just considerations that we can make as a publisher.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you had mentioned that I think is worth talking about when we were chatting a little bit before, is this idea of privacy policies and putting that in place. One of the questions that I had for you is some of these changes that happened in California, we saw this in Europe, maybe it was a year ago or more than a year ago, where it changes how we have to… the language we have to have in our privacy policies. Can you talk about that in case people haven’t updated their privacy policy and just why that’s important to have one that’s up to date?

Danielle Liss: Absolutely. And if we would have talked in January or maybe even February, and you had asked me what was the theme for the year going to be for content creators in terms of legal, I would have said data and privacy.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: That’s changed obviously, but I still think it’s a really important thing to be aware of because I don’t think we’re anywhere close to done.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: So a couple of years ago, 2018, around this time, was a little bit interesting because we were working with GDPR, which is the General Data Protection Regulation. And that was really about how companies use the data of people in the European union, and it was an opt-in model, meaning that a company had to get permission before they started tracking someone’s data. So that’s when we really saw in the U.S. the advent of the cookie bars on most websites, saying, “We use cookies, here’s why, do you accept it?” Okay. Last year California passed the CCPA, which is the California Consumer Protection Act. And they are, it’s an opt-out model. So, it’s a little bit different from the EU in that regard, where EU is opt-in, California is opt-out. And the thing about California, the way that the legislation was drafted, is broad. So they basically say any business that is selling information or a person’s data has to offer certain ways to opt-out. And you may think to yourself, “Oh, I’m not selling data.” Oh, you might be though.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: And that’s where it gets really tricky, but it’s also tricky because the way they define business means that you have to meet certain thresholds. So, if you haven’t your site to something that might have 50,000 visitors from California over the course of a year, you may not need to participate. I think the other aspect is if you are a true sort of data broker, that also matters, or if you’ve hit the 25 million threshold in terms of profit.

Bjork Ostrom: So what is a data broker, can you explain that for people who aren’t familiar?

Danielle Liss: Somebody who really is just selling data back and forth saying, “I have this list of this type of… this is the, the data that goes behind whatever it is.” I think there’s a lot of different ways that you can define it, but it really is about the selling. It’s what I think of when I think of selling data, you know what I mean? And it’s probably not something that most content creators are doing.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably not buying and selling data.

Danielle Liss: I think if you were buying and selling it, you would probably be very aware.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: That is the kind of industry that you’re working in. So if you’re wondering yourself, “Do I do that?” Probably no.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Danielle Liss: But under the law, if you have that 50,000 threshold, that’s really where a lot of influencers may come into it depending on what your traffic is, then you may need to be CCPA compliance. CCPA does have very specific things that need to be included in your privacy policy, not to mention having an opt-out page.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: So, one thing that I have seen since we’ve seen all of the state home orders coming through, is I think people are really taking a look at what’s happening on the backend of their site. And I think that, at least based on what I’m getting questions on and what I’m seeing an uptick in sales on, and it’s for website policy. So I think this is a perfect time, if you haven’t done so, make sure you’ve got an updated privacy policy, make sure all of your terms are where they need to be, and do an audit of what you have on your site. Because you may have old plugins on your site that you’re looking at saying, “I haven’t used this in ages,” delete it. That way it might be something that you don’t have to necessarily disclose that you’re using anymore, because you’re not and you can just take it off the site.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of that? How that might work and what you might need to disclose?

Danielle Liss: It depends on what you have installed, and I never know any of the names of things.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah, not your department.

Danielle Liss: I think that it could be if, let’s say you had a specific commenting software on your site that was collecting information from people where they had to create a profile to use it, but then you’ve disabled comments. You don’t need to say that you use that particular software anymore, and it’s not tracking any type of data because you’ve taken it off at the site. So just make sure that you’ve kind of taken a look at that, or if you’ve added something that you need to disclose, definitely make sure that, that’s included as well. Or maybe you’ve changed your email providers, maybe you’ve gone from Mailchimp to ConvertKit, and you need to just make those tweaks. Or one other thing that I see a lot of people doing right now, is adding products to their offerings, so whether it’s a course or an ebook, we might see some more things like that. So if you are getting into more e-commerce, make sure you’ve also got those policies in place.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So an example would be if you use a service like Google Analytics, or for Food Blogger Pro we use Hotjar INNERCON, all of these are collecting data and you need to have that disclosed and what type of data they’re collecting within your privacy policy. So, it’s a good… actually this is one of the great things about doing these interviews, while you’re doing that, I’m jotting down a little note to myself to make sure that we go back and refresh these, not just for Pinch of Yum, which we’ve done recently, but also for Food Blogger Pro and WP Tasty and Nutrifox.

Bjork Ostrom: Because all of those, at a very bare minimum, all of those are going to have Google Analytics, and we’re all using CloudFlare for those, so we need to make sure that all of that information is up to date. How do you know if you have everything that you need to have in there? Is there a checklist of things that you need to include? Obviously if you’re using a Businessese policy, it’s going to have kind of the basics of what you should do, but how do you even go about doing an audit? Or would it make more sense to reach out to somebody like yourself, who kind of lives and breathes these, to do an audit?

Danielle Liss: I will give you my standard lawyer answer here, it depends.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.

Danielle Liss: It depends on what your comfort level is. I am, let’s say, tech averse.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: I break stuff on my website when I try to do things, so my tech person and I have just kind of, we’ve come to an agreement that I’ll stop that, and she’ll do all the things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Danielle Liss: So it depends on what your comfort level is, and if you feel good about going into the backend of your site and really kind of digging into what those plugins are that you’re using, because you truly do need to know what data you’re collecting and who you’re sharing it with and what they are doing with that data. So, if you are not comfortable with that, then I would say, “Definitely I can absolutely help with things like drafting those policies and asking you the questions so that we can kind of walk through what you might be collecting.” But if you are comfortable with it, it can really be a matter of just sort of looking at it and saying, “Okay, where am I getting anybody’s personal information? Where are they entering it? Is it voluntary or is it something automatic, like Google Analytics, that’s kind of working in the background? Who does it get shared with, and what of those shares is automatic.”

Danielle Liss: So for example, if somebody enters in their email on a ConvertKit form, then it’s also being stored at ConvertKit, it’s not just being stored something that you have access to. So that’s when you know a third party is involved, and I think those are the most important things. What information are you collecting? How are you using it? Who are you sharing it with? Are you using cookies? That type of thing.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Can you talk about the, why, behind this? So, as a small publisher, let’s say my blog is my side hustle, making some income from it or maybe it’s my full time job, a lot of Food Blogger Pro podcast listeners, this is what they’re doing full time. Are we in danger of federal government coming after us if something’s not being disclosed? Or is it kind of just good to be proactive? What are the risks that we need to consider in doing this? And I know that there’s a lot of gotcha parts of that to ask for an attorney, but what do we need to consider? What are the considerations here?

Danielle Liss: I think that you need to consider where your audience is from, because it’s not just where you as a company are located, it also depends on where your audience lives. So if you have audience, particularly I know right now two states that require a privacy policy are California and Nevada.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: And so they say if you have any type of audience from those states, you need to have at least a privacy policy in place. Under CCPA, if you are required to be compliant because you’ve got that 50,000 people from California visiting each year, if you reach that threshold, there are potential civil penalties that go along with that.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Danielle Liss: I think that for me, a lot of what comes down to privacy and data is truly about trust for your audience.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Danielle Liss: If they need to know who has their information and what their risks are, I think that they should be able to find that with ease. And so, I think that it’s just really important to make sure that you are being transparent about what you collect and how you use it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I think one statement that’s really true in a situation like this, is you are not your target market. Meaning just because you as a publisher, speaking to us as podcast listeners and me myself, just because we don’t go and read a privacy policy doesn’t mean that nobody does. There are people who are… there’s an entire spectrum of people who are concerned about how their data is used, and there are people who are very concerned about that. And it’s important that we disclose that to those people, because just because I’m not, doesn’t mean that everybody’s not concerned about that. So it’s a little bit counterintuitive, but the more that you disclose, and you had kind of hinted at this, and I believe it’s true, the more trust is established because you’re not trying to hide anything. It’s not like we’re trying to secretly collect data, we just want to be extremely upfront about that.

Bjork Ostrom: So, even though this isn’t necessarily the year of data and privacy because of current events that have changed that, it’s still a really important consideration for us. And maybe insurance, in the sense that it’s not something that’s super fun to do or fun to think about or fun to spend time on, but really important to have that in place so you know that you’re not exposed in some way, that you don’t need to be, and the cost of that is relatively low. So Danielle, if people are interested in connecting with you either personally to hire you to help with this or to use Businessese, can you talk about what that would look like and how they could reach out?

Danielle Liss: Absolutely. If you are someone who is comfortable doing DIY templates, you can visit businessese.com, which is business E-S-E .com. We have a number of different templates that are there. And if you are a Food Blogger Pro, remember it’s in the deal section, is that right?

Bjork Ostrom: It is. Yep. I just pulled it up here and if you scroll down to the bottom, there is a Businessese deal, which we have with a lot of the experts or people we interview on the podcast, so be sure to check that out, members.

Danielle Liss: And then if you are interested in working with a lawyer directly, please feel free to reach out, you can go to lisslegal.com and there is a consult page. Just fill in your information and I will reach out to you so that we can set up a time to chat about how I might be able to help.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Danielle, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Thanks for helping out on the forums. And thanks for helping us personally with all of these legal considerations, because there are so many, and man am I thankful that somebody like you is capable and interested in helping us with that because I would not be the best person to do that.

Danielle Liss: Thank you very much.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so thanks for coming on the podcast

Bjork Ostrom: Kate, welcome back to the podcast.

Kate Ahl: Thanks so much for having me back.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So we are checking in with the experts here at Food Blogger Pro, not only to check about this unique season that we’re in, but also just to take a quick moment to check in to see if there’s considerations that we should have on kind of a macro level. So, I’m thinking of these as kind of micro, macro. Let’s start with the micro, we’re in a really unique time of life and a really unique time of business. Have you seen anything on the Pinterest side of things that reflects that?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, absolutely. Number one, Pinterest traffic is at an all time high for a lot of people. Their usage, they’ve said, is just through the roof. And I think that’s because obviously people are at home and Pinterest is the place you go to find ideas or solve quick problems or longterm problems, so as a result, they’re seeing this huge surge. And that puts content creators in a great position because they can see double, triple, quadruple their traffic on some old stuff and some new stuff that serves their person with the problem that they have, whether it’s a basic recipe or an adventurous recipe. And Pinterest as a result of this, has pushed out the door a couple of new features.

Kate Ahl: One is the Today tab, and that’s really getting out pertinent information about where we’re at with COVID–19 or little things to do from home, ways to inspire, and this updates each and every day. We’re not quite sure yet how they pull content into that, because we just don’t know a whole lot, but we know that was an initiative from Q3. They’ve pushed that up. And then they also pushed up the Shop tab, to make shopping really, really easy from the platform. And so they’re really, I would say right now because of this all time usage, pushing out new features, which as a result of the engineering side, can create some glitches that cause people to get marked as spam. So, I want to just-

Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.

Kate Ahl: … I want to just assure people who are listening, if you do get marked as spam, 99% chance you did not do anything wrong, which I know is people’s first fear is, “What did I do wrong? I was following best practices.” It’s always when we see new features added to the platform that we see this surgence of spam and accounts getting blocked. So, just wait a couple of days, email them back as many times as you can, be annoying, and you will eventually get your account back with an email that says, “We’re so sorry it was an accident and here’s your account back.”

Bjork Ostrom: Wow. So many things tucked in there. First of all, the Today tab, I pulled that up and I’m looking at it. And I can see that if you’re on the Pinterest mobile app, which we’re in a season of life, well I won’t say season, I’ve been using the term, season of life, a lot because I feel like that’s the reality of what it is because we don’t know how long it’s going to be, we don’t know if it’s going to be weeks or months. But macro, speaking macro, I’m looking at the mobile version, and we should always be thinking about the mobile version, because if you think of everybody at home, there’s a really good chance they’re on their phones consuming this. And so as I look at the Today tab, I see that, actually funny enough, I think the screenshot on the, we’ll link to this in the show notes, I just took a screenshot to see, I think it’s a Pinch of Yum recipe. So this is the page where they’re saying, introducing the Today tab for daily inspiration, and-

Kate Ahl: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: … they have a different recipes that they’re displaying there, they have some fashion, they have a few different things that are lined up there, but that’s in the, For You tab. But then there’s also a Today tab. Can you talk about what that is and how that works? The Today tab?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, so because it’s so new, we’re still learning a lot about it, but basically what we’ve seen is that every single day Pinterest pulls in these categories. They change up the categories, so mine right now are for April 16th, they always put the date at the top, simple ways to green your home, cookbooks you should have, science experiments with kids. We think they’re pulling this based on searches and what’s becoming most popular in how they can serve the pinner. And what it is, is about 30 to 50ish pins, so if you scroll through, you get to the bottom, and it says, “That’s all for today. You can go back to your main home feed.” But it’s just pulling together these top ideas in that specific bucket so that people can find quick ideas. Example one is also the art of the handwritten note, so it’s pulling in information from what’s already on the platform that they can give to the pinner really fast to accomplish this goal.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, got it. So it’s essentially almost like a version of, it’s not news necessarily, but it’s content that’s relevant to things that are happening or current events, and then it’s pins that are kind of organized around that. Is that a good kind of synopsis?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, that’s a great synopsis. And one of the things that you’ll always see here, and I think this is a big push of why they did it, was, “How to slow the spread of COVID–19,” or, “What to do healthwise.” And in these specific sections, they will always have information only from the CDC or the World Health Organization, to be able to share accurate information. But they always have that in the Today tab. So I think that was a little bit a part of it was to get out relevant information.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Kate Ahl: But they change all the time. So I would encourage people, when we see something new like this and we don’t necessarily know what’s happening with it or what their algorithm is to poll, we tell people to watch it and look for things like, are the images, do they have text on them? Do they have the keyword of the main header and, or the main category that Pinterest is pulling in? Do they have no text? Just start to pay attention to patterns and what type of categories they have.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. So from a strategy perspective, there’s not a lot that we can do from optimizing for the algorithm for that.

Kate Ahl: Correct.

Bjork Ostrom: Because as is true for many algorithms, they’re not going to come out and say, “Here’s exactly how you do it.” So point being, become familiar with it, and we’ve talked about this on a few different episodes lately, allow some of that informal or maybe formal research that you’re doing to inform your gut as to what type of content is showing up there. Do you have any sense, or if you do have something that shows up on the Today tab-

Speaker 2: … up there. Do you have any sense, or if you do have something that shows up on the today tab, what that looks like in terms of engagement and traffic from that, or is it hard to pull that apart because they’re not necessarily saying this is coming from the today tab?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, it’s hard to pull apart because we don’t have that direct line in analytics to see anywhere either on Pinterest, Tailwind or Google. So right now it’s a little bit of a guessing game as to where they’re pulling it from, if it’s fresh content or if it’s older content. What we’ve seen is that a lot of the content creators, especially in the food space, it can be a lot of their older content that’s getting a resurgence. So something that people had from even 2012 that’s maybe a really easy bread recipe that people haven’t been paying attention to for the last couple of years, now everybody’s paying attention to it.

Kate Ahl: I think right now we just don’t know quite yet, but we do know that Pinterest every single month at the top of the month they put out a blog post in their newsroom that talks about the percentage of searches and what’s been happening. Those are great to pay attention to because things like making bread without yeast because you can’t find yeast at the store right now, that search for that term has gone up 4000%. They list the percentages next to it so we pay attention to these keywords and the searches and then we look at past content, then we would create a new image, go back and update that type of post. That’s really all we have to go on. And then Pinterest trends too as well is important to look at to put in the search term to see what’s the volume of searches again that are happening.

Speaker 2: Yeah. How much of this ties into, or what would your commentary be on the idea of fresh content, which Pinterest has really been pushing lately? They say, “Hey, fresh content is really important,” and then entering into this unique time of content seeing some, like you said, a little bit of resurgent or new life to old content. Should publishers be kind of balancing between those two where they’re looking at their old content or old pins and trying to give new life to those or if they’re approaching old content, should they pin fresh pins from that content? Does that question make sense?

Kate Ahl: Yeah. No, it totally does. I would say it’s going to be a balancing act of both and it’s going to start in your analytics, looking at Google Analytics to see is there an increase on particular types of pins driving traffic to your site, and if so, create a new image for that and put it onto Pinterest so that you’re maximizing both, and then think about your content creation going forward. You might’ve had an idea of what you were going to create in the next couple of months, but that might not fit where your people are at right now. So there’s a little bit of a twofold strategy between content creation going forward, maybe that looking different and then creating new fresh pin images.

Kate Ahl: I still do think that’s important. I’ve seen it in my main home feed on Pinterest, newer content popping up quicker, something that I’ve maybe seen published within the last couple of days. Whereas before it was a lot of older stuff; two, three months or even a year. So we’re definitely seeing that shift in the main smart feed because Pinterest wants to introduce new ideas, especially with this resurgence. That is something we’re paying attention to with the today tab to see is this new content that’s popping up or are they pulling up old stuff that has a high search ranking.

Speaker 2: Sure. So to break apart that little tidbit, the strategy that you talked about, you’re saying use Google Analytics to find the content that is getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest. So that means you go Google Analytics, you’re looking at the traffic sources and saying, “Hey, is there a specific post that’s getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest right now?” You then go to that post and from that piece of content you create a new pin, fresh content that you put to Pinterest. So it’s almost like you’re seeing the areas of interest where people are already naturally gravitating towards a certain type of content and then you’re being strategic by saying we’re going to double down on the success by creating new content around it. Is that an accurate recap of what you’re saying?

Kate Ahl: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the great parts about going back and looking at your analytics to see what’s already working is that’s your idea generator. I mean if you already have something in the wings that’s about bread or muffins or something that’s five ingredients or whatever, push it out now because you know your people are interested in it because of what you pushed out in the past. So yeah, your recap was perfect.

Speaker 2: Got it. Do you know off the top of your head how you can do that in Google Analytics? Where are you going within Google Analytics to see the traffic from Pinterest to certain pages?

Kate Ahl: Yeah. For certain pages, I have the path of finding the pins that are driving the most traffic in my head and I know that’s acquisition all traffic referrals and then click on the pinterest.com. The one as far as landing pages, I think you can add a secondary dimension to that. I’m not going to confuse people, but I know that’s where we go to look at, “Okay these are really popular pins,” and we can see if they’re getting more traffic than they were from before and maybe there’s some that are coming up the list that you haven’t seen in a long time.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I’ll just talk through that one more time because I have Google Analytics pulled up here. I click on acquisition and then all traffic and then referrals. There’s just so many sub-layers in Google Analytics and I feel like they’re always switching. And then once I do that I can see all of the different traffic sources that are considered referrals from Google Analytics. So these would be one site linking to your site, and for most people the most popular is going to be probably Pinterest and Facebook, maybe Buzzfeed, those are the top ones for Pinch of Yum. So I’m going to click on Pinterest and then what it does is it gives me a list of all of the different Pinterest URLs that are sending traffic to Pinch of Yum. And then in my date range I can say, Hey, I want to look at the last, let’s say 30 days. Is there a date range that you like to use for that or it just kind of depend I suppose on what you’re looking for?

Kate Ahl: No, I like 30 but I also like … I mean especially with the time that we’re in right now, I would go 30 and then maybe even back it up two months just to see what was happening a little bit before this all hit and then get a cross comparison to see the increase and decrease.

Speaker 2: Yep. What I can do then within Google Analytics, so I’ve said the last 30 days and then what I’ll do is in the top right, I promise listeners that I won’t talk through the UI of Google Analytics the entire episode, but I can click compare to in the previous period, which would be the 30 months before and if I click apply for that, it’ll show me the before and after. And for a lot of us, especially in the food space, traffic is probably going to be up. But then what you can do is you can see those pins that have the biggest difference from the period before. So in our case, it’s when we were recording this February 16th through March 16th compared to the most recent period, which is March 17th to April 15th.

Speaker 2: Then I can go in and say like, “Okay, what are the ones where there’s this huge update, this huge increase in traffic.” And those are the ones that you’re saying, “Hey, these might be the ones that have some momentum that people are really using and they’re finding these valuable and therefore it would make sense for you to think about creating fresh content from these specific posts.” It’s not like you’re doing a new pin with that pin but you’re looking to that piece of content saying like, “How can I double down on that?” Is that right?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, exactly. If you have affiliate links in there, go click on them, see if they’re still to the right product. If you have anything that leads them to sign up for your email list or any instructions you want to update, just update it to where it looks like it’s written for today and not five years ago.

Speaker 2: Got it. The other thing that you’d mentioned is this idea of getting banned, which I feel like there’s just with any platform search, Pinterest, Facebook, email, there’s always the potential that you get blacklisted or banned and it’s just kind of a scary thing, exists with Pinterest. But the great thing about what you do is you have exposure to hundreds of content creators and I’m guessing a lot of times even if somebody doesn’t work with you, they run into this and the first person they go to is you and they’re like, “Help, what do I do?”

Speaker 2: So you see this and you had mentioned 99% of the time you’re not doing something wrong. You’re not doing something malicious. If you are, you probably know, and you can probably get your account reversed in active again. You had mentioned sending an email. Is there a support email address for Pinterest? What does that look like and how do you go about contacting them?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, there is. I will say we recorded a podcast and wrote up a blog post for this because we were getting asked over and over and over again, but there is [email protected] There was a little bit of speculation for a while that this particular email address wasn’t being managed, but we did learn that it actually is. Email them first. There’s a help desk inside Pinterest, email them. I will tell you the normal process is you’re going to get an email back that says, “You were flagged for committing spam. You did all these things wrong. We’re not reinstating your account.” Do not take that as truth. Email them back and say, “I want proof.” And then keep emailing and keep emailing.

Kate Ahl: One of the things we see is that with Pinterest it does seem to happen more so on their platform than any other platform, which it’s disappointing because you are losing out on ad income or email signups or whatever the traffic can bring you, which is frustrating, but just know that you really didn’t do anything wrong. I know most of the creators inside Food Blogger Pro are really trying to do best practices. They’re making sure that they’re following all the guidelines and this is just an accident. There’s this automatic spam filter that goes through. We saw it happen every other Tuesday for a long time. It’s just something that good accounts get caught up into the mix and it’s a huge bummer.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Do you get the sense that it’s an automated thing? So these aren’t people going in and saying like, “I clicked the spam button.” This is some type of automated scanning that for some reason when a new service, to say what you had talked about earlier, a new development within Pinterest, a new feature, a new area is published, the algorithm, whatever it is, tracking gets a little funky and somehow they increase the amount of false positive spam taking four different accounts. Is that the sense that you get?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, absolutely. It’s what they call their spam algorithm. It’s an auto-generated bot that looks for these specific triggers and we absolutely believe that there’s just some weird faulty setting that happens to sweep up a few. And that’s what they say in their email when they finally re-instate you is, “Oops, we’re totally sorry you got caught up in our spam filter. Here’s your account back. You didn’t do anything wrong.” It can take anywhere from three days to seven days. We’ve even seen them re-instate, then mark again as spam, re-instate and then block. We’ve seen it all. But I have yet to this day to see any good content creator not get their account back. I do know it can happen. But when you first get that email, I just want to assure you that I understand the panic, but you will get it back. I mean I’m 99% positive you’ll get it back.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that’s great. Is there anywhere that Pinterest lists what they consider to be spam? I mean there’s a page here that I’m looking at and they talk about graphic violence, harassment, cyber bullying, hate speech, which we all understand and it’s why these things need to exist. But is there specifics around anything else that people should be aware of? Are there rules of engagement other than the obvious ones that I listed?

Kate Ahl: One of the things they mentioned in a live they did with Tailwind back in January is they were looking for repeated pins being sent out very close together. So the same pin, I would imagine it’s pretty high, like 50 and the same pins going out massively on the platform. They didn’t give us too many specifics around that. They didn’t say 50 was their number, but they alluded to the fact that we don’t want you pinning the same pin over and over. So somebody that is a spammer that’s putting consistent content out there to try to spam the platform that is one of the things that they’ll be looking for.

Speaker 2: Got it. So some really good considerations is the today tab, be sure to check that out. Be aware of what that is to monitor how they’re producing content on that and what type of content they’re showing there. For those of you who do run into this kind of worst case scenario, to know that it’s not the end. There’s your ability to pursue that and you should pursue that with Pinterest and reach out to them and say, “Hey, please put my account back in good standing. I have worked very hard for you Pinterest.”

Kate Ahl: Thank them, yes.

Speaker 2: How about on a macro level? So if we scale back a little bit and we look at some of the considerations for 2020 maybe and beyond, where are things right now with Pinterest as it relates to best practices and as content creators, things that we should be thinking about?

Kate Ahl: Yeah, I would say one is you’re going to have to look at 2020 as a place to just your set … it has to have its own qualification, right? So when you go into 2021 and you cross compare your traffic and you go, “Oh my gosh, my traffic is down,” you need to consider what happened in 2020. Everybody being at home, everybody using the platform. So I would say number one it’s just to look at pivoting your marketing a little bit for what your people are dealing with now and then remember to kind of pivot and pop out with them as we go through 2020 and as we change what people are searching and paying attention to that. And then also when you go to do your review, don’t come into April of 2021 and be like, “Oh my gosh, my traffic is down.” Well that’s because April of 2020 everybody was at home.

Kate Ahl: I think it’s just having that mindset of how you can serve your people through Pinterest that are searching on Pinterest. And if you don’t know that, I think one, it’s important to ask people what they need and number two to look at what the searches are on Pinterest so you can create content for the rest of the year. And maybe don’t create too far ahead; I think that’s another lesson too.

Speaker 2: Yep. Yep. There is just such a unique time for planning where the idea of knowing what you’re going to do a month out seems much different than it did three months ago, because I think of the mindset I was in a month ago, the mindset I’m in now … it very quickly changes because of how unique the day to day is as things develop around us.

Speaker 2: Do you have an example of what that looks like to kind of shift your content in real time? And we can talk specifically for food and recipes. I think this is valuable because it applies right now on the micro level, but also like you said, as we kind of shift out of this, it also applies to that time because you’re monitoring, you’re paying attention, you are letting your content evolve as the mindset of people evolves. But on a ground level, obviously it depends on the niche and the focus of the content that you’re creating, but let’s use a recipe site like Pinch of Yum, how do we do that? What are the ways that we monitor and evolve our content as it relates to Pinterest?

Kate Ahl: Well, I would say number one right now you need to pay attention to what our food supply is doing. If Pinch of Yum has a recipe that has these somewhat obscure ingredients or maybe things you can only get on Amazon or kind of a fun, adventurous recipe, you have to think, are your people ready to embrace that right now because they can’t go to multiple stores to find ingredients. Whereas before we would see that as an adventure. We’d be like, “I’m going to go to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.” Whereas now it might be … I mean the Pinch of Yum best chocolate chip cookies, I make those all the time because they are comfort food and they’re so approachable and easy. I think because of our mental capacity right now and things we can take on and what we’re doing, I mean I told you before this interview is helping like a seventh grader figure out pie, right, and how to do circumference and diameter, I need easy.

Kate Ahl: And so it’s going into your recipes to think what can my people get access to right now and that is a bit of a relief for them to make? And also with a little bit of fun, like we’re at home, we’re stuck here. So it’s just paying attention to what people have access to as a recipe creator and not … you might have the ability to get something to get an ingredient but your people might not, so how can you be back to basics. That might be pulling out recipes that like your grandmother made or associating stories and what you … I just think there’s more, for lack of a better term, tenderness that has to go into your recipes and awareness of what people can actually do right now.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I think awareness too of who your audience is. I think of my friend who’s a single guy and he’s like, “I’ve never had more time to cook in my life and I’m making a three hour meal every night.” We have other friends, they’re both working parents and they have kids and they’re like, “I have from 10:55 to 11 at night for free time and I scroll through Instagram and then I go to bed,” like zero time available.”

Speaker 2: Chances are if you’ve been creating content for a while, you have a little bit of an understanding of who your audience might be and therefore the content that you’re surfacing for them is going to be different. It’s not all just easy recipes, but for Pinch of Yum it might be because a lot of the people who follow Pinch of Yum have family or have kids or are working and trying to figure out how to create simple content, but maybe you focus on meals for singles and in that type of content is going to look a little bit different.

Speaker 2: Kate, these podcasts always feel so short because we’re doing these little expert interview sprints, but any kind of departing wisdom or words of advice that you’d give to people in this season knowing that there some question marks, there’s some fear and yet there’s some opportunity and as a business owner yourself, you are right there with us, any words of wisdom that you give to people as a last thought as we finish up here?

Kate Ahl: Yeah. I would say you really hit it perfectly, which is there is a lot of fear, but you have to push yourself out of that because there are people who want to consume your content, to make your recipes. And when you don’t know what to do, just ask your people and they will tell you. They will appreciate being asked, “What do you need right now?” Because that’s really what people … they want to be heard and they want solutions to wherever they’re at, like you said, whether it’s the single person at home or the family. And so those two things would be move out of fear, don’t let that paralyze you and let that inspire your creativity, because when we face hardship, we do get innovative and we do get creative.

Kate Ahl: And so allow yourself to do that, but balance that a little bit with the hustle. We see that in the online world of the go, go, go. Don’t get caught up in that. So try to find that healthy balance between … It is a crazy time, but people do need joy and they need help moving forward and they just need to be asked what they need to make their life a little bit easier.

Speaker 2: That’s great. I think even just the act of asking goes a long way. Showing people that you care, showing people that you’re interested in helping is in and of itself a statement and a testament to why it is you do what you do. So I think that’s great.

Kate Ahl: Yeah. I would say too a tip for that would be send an email that just has a simple one line, like “What do you need help with right now?” I wouldn’t even do a survey because it feels very mass produced but an email feels very personal. And really read those replies. Put them into a spreadsheet or something. But just very simple, “What can I help you with right now?” And then just see what they say.

Speaker 2: That’s great, and I feel like an awesome note to end on. Kate, if people are interested in connecting with you, can you give a quick overview of what it is that you do and how they can connect with you over at Simple Pin Media?

Kate Ahl: Yeah. We are Pinterest marketing and management, so we have opportunities for managing your Pinterest account or helping you get Pinterest marketing education and we also have the Simple Pin podcast where I teach all Pinterest marketing tips. You can find me at Simple Pin Media on all social channels as well.

Speaker 2: Awesome. Thanks for coming on the podcast, Kate.

Kate Ahl: Yeah, anytime.

Alexa Peduzzi: That’s a wrap on this mega episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We hope you learned a lot and that you feel a little bit more confident running your blog and your business during this season.

Alexa Peduzzi: Bjork, Andrew, Danielle and Kate mentioned a lot of awesome resources in this episode and you can always find links to them in our show notes, foodbloggerpro.com/252. If you head over there, you can also leave a comment for this episode with your one big takeaway from the advice that our experts shared today.

Alexa Peduzzi: Before we officially end this episode, I wanted to read this incredible review that we got for the podcast from Lori Crommie. I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. It comes from Apple Podcasts. It says, “You don’t even have to be a food blogger to appreciate how meaty and informative the Food Blogger Pro podcast is. If you are serious about turning your blog into a profitable business, you need this podcast. All of the guests so far are giants in the field and they have been so generous with sharing their expertise. Perhaps that’s partly because Bjork always asks the hard questions that I would never dare ask anyone of them to their face, but I’m dying to know the answers to.”

Alexa Peduzzi: “About Bjork specifically, he’s just one of the most likable people I’ve encountered online.” Totally agree Lori. “And as busy as he is, he makes it a priority to keep himself accessible to his listeners, readers, and members of the Food Blogger Pro community. Even if there are podcasts as good as this one, it’s Bjork who will keep you coming back for more. Give him a listen and tell me you don’t want to be his best friend after just one podcast. Go ahead, but know that I won’t believe you.”

Alexa Peduzzi: Thank you so much for your awesome review, Lori. So, so thankful to have you as a part of the Food Blogger Pro community. You are just incredible. And to you who are listening, if you are not Lori, we appreciate you as well. Just the fact that you showed up, downloaded this episode and listened is so great because it means that you’re taking a step forward with your business today. You’re learning, you’re doing, you’re making progress, and we think that’s just awesome.

Alexa Peduzzi: We’ll see you next time friend, and from all of us here at FBP HQ make it a great week.

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  1. This podcast was so incredibly helpful! Thanks for everything you do to help us.

    I have been searching for information for bloggers who are filing for unemployment and PUA and the PPP loans and would be so incredibly grateful if you would do a podcast regarding this topic. Thanks!